Monday, May 31, 2010

Not knitting baby things

I should be knitting baby things. There are babies due all over the place, and I enjoy knitting baby things, generally, but I am not knitting baby things.

Instead I have been knitting lace. First I decided to knit two divinely blue balls of mystery yarn, which is probably cotton of some sort but since the labels are no where to be found, I can't be sure. It's very soft and splitty, and wanted to be a simple but interesting narrow scarf for summer wear.

I browsed through my scarf patterns, and found Meandering Vines, which is very pretty and surprisingly simple. I edited it, removing some stitches and adding a 3-stitch i-cord edging from the leafy scarf in Scarf Style. I also used an i-cord for the edging, and ended up doing a wacky purled i-cord for the cast off to match. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough yarn, but I ended up using only 1.5 balls of my mystery yarn.

When this was done, I looked through my baby patterns, and tried to get excited about doing a baby-sized Lackadaisical cap, but I couldn't work up any enthusiasm. I went to my stash and pulled out a huge ball of red laceweight, and decided to knit Annis, the Knitty bonus pattern that came out last week.

The thought of casting on 363 stitches was daunting, because I didn't think a long-tail would work, nor would a backward-loop cast on. A knitted-on cast on seemed the way to go. I did a couple swatches to confirm, because I really hate the knitted-on cast on. The swatches confirmed my gauge and that my other cast-on options weren't stretchy enough. Drats.

After the beastly cast on, however, the pattern was quite slick. The nupps weren't too painful, and even an error in row 13 only slowed me down a little (I used the photos and stitch count to figure out that  the YO symbols on either side of the s2kp decrease were missing).

I'm down to the last 3 rows of the chart, then the short rows start. It's very pretty!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Who is the patron saint of yarn stashing!?

I want to thank the proper saint for my miraculous yarn find on Saturday.

I have had Percy all but finished - 10 rows left - and had been planning on going back to Depth of Field to look for a similar ball of Harmony. I bought the first ball last fall or summer, but wasn't too worried about a perfect match - I figured I only had an inch to go, and with the wide gradations of color, a close relation was all I needed.

Saturday I tossed my almost-finished shawl, along with the color and dye lot info, into the back seat of my car Knatasha, thinking I might have time to swing by Borealis Yarns.

I didn't, really. I pulled up to Borealis at 5:10pm, could see the lights were on, and saw someone go in. I hopped out and crossed the street to read the "Hours" sign. Closed at 5. I stood for a moment, uncertain, and unwilling to be one of those customers who ignores a closed sign. A woman came out, and said "They said I could go in if I knew exactly what I needed." Aha! I knew exactly what I needed. I went in.

"I heard I could come in if I knew exactly what I needed," I announced as I came in. A nice young woman asked, "What do you need?" I told her, and she walked over to the cube of Harmony and plucked a ball of the top. "That looks like it..." I murmured, because again, I did not really expect to find a matching ball a year later and city away from where I bought the first.  I read off my color and dye lot, and patron-saint-of-stashing be praised, the ball was indeed Color 1, Dye lot AC01!

How crazy is that?!

I finished Percy on Sunday afternoon. I knit to the end of the first ball, which ended in a cool green, and started the new ball, which started with a warm green - although I can't really see the difference in the shawl.

I started blocking, and was very happy with how it looks and how big it will be, but had to stop and watch Lost. I will block it tonight if time allows!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Puppyless again

Jack-the-bear went to his new family today, and he may be the most loved puppy in the world. His new owners are a great, especially his new best girl, Sophie. I don't often feel like fostering shelter pups can change the world, but tonight I know saw a little girl's dreams come true.

Now to put away the pee pads, clean up all the chewed up toilet paper and unstuffed toy fluff in the bathroom, put away the puppy toys, clean and stow the kennel, and pay attention to my human family, because I couldn't foster without their tolerance and assistance.

Extra love to Harley, too, best foster dog brother ever. He's so good with puppies - maybe because he was a rescue himself, maybe because he's still a puppy himself. I know he will be giving me sad looks for the next week. Someday he will get a puppy of his own.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Festival of Yarn

I truly appreciate the local wool festival organizers in my county. A wool festival on Mothers' Day Weekend is an absolute guarantee that I will get my favorite gift, yarn, for Mothers' Day. Thank you, clever wool festival organizers!

My first stop was Enchanted Meadows. I love their alpaca. Love it. I bought a skein of blueberry alpaca from them last year, and knit a hat. And gloves. And a neckerchief. It was the endless ball of blueberry softness, but it was also a mystery ball: I lost the tag shortly after winding it into a yummy yarn cake. Luckily, I recognized Mr. Enchanted Meadows and his humongous skeins of yarn in the first building I entered at the festival, so getting another endless skein was first order of the day. I left it to my boys to pick a color for me as a gift. There were lovely reds, purples, blues, greens, even orange skeins. My colorblind son and his conservative father picked out... brown. I will be knitting hats for the boys, I guess.

They also picked up a smooshy skein of angora, about 80 yards worth, from HoneyGold Acres. It's lovely, really - incredibly soft, undyed... and makes me break out in a minor rash.

So far, the yarn purchasing was not going well. Time to take things into my own hands! I stopped at one stall and fell in love with naturally dyed corriedale. It was a lavender purple blend that I was pretty sure would match the lavender alpaca gloves I knit from last year's festival yarn purchase. I took a card, in case I stumbled upon the same vendor that sold me my lavender alpaca.

I walked through a lot of yarn, touching and crooning along the way, and ended up at a stall called Corny Goodness. The colors of their yarn were fantastic - true color wheel yellows, oranges, blues, greens, and purples. I don't even like orange, and their orange yarn was drool-worthy. It was 100% corn, too. I chatted with the vendors ,a husband and wife just starting out in the yarn business. Paul told me that corn yarn won't stain, won't fade, and won't shrink. It feels like a stiff cotton. I bought two shades - Blue Eyes Dark and Spruce Medium - that I will use to knit baby hats and booties for my cousin's twins, due in September.

I passed by the stalls with commercial yarn, and looked for the indie spinners and dyers. I had to pass up lots of wonderful stuff! I usually don't look at needles or knitting accessories, but a young woman knitting a sock on short black dpns caught my eye. The needles were carbon and a pleasure to use - warm to the touch, with a light weight that felt nice in my hands. I knit a couple round on 0s, then tried to bend the free needle. It didn't give a bit!

Since I am a loose knitter, I am always downsizing two or more needle sizes to get gauge. That means a sock knit on 2s or 3s has to be knit on 0s or 1s for me - or smaller. I special ordered five 5" 00s; I should get them next week.

I finally wrapped up my festival buying with the lavender-purple corriedale I had found early in my browsing. I had $16 in my pocket, and although the first two skeins were $19, the next was... $16! Perfection This yarn is slightly thick-thin, with a soft halo. It should make a lovely hat.

My latest project is designing a cap using an entrelac base. I like the geometry of it until I get to the top - I'm having trouble ending my cap! I've done two prototypes, now for some research and experiments with different decreases to make the stitches move where I want them to!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Harvest Wool Festival

I spent a few hours this morning at the count sheep and wool festival. This was my second festival, and my second go at photo contest coordinator. I am not usually a solo volunteer - I will chaperon, I do my Boy Scout stuff, but it was a stretch for me to volunteer for the photo contest last year. As I recall, I volunteered to make sure I would remember to go to the festival - I had forgot about it the year before.

Last year I was pretty anonymous, didn't know what I was doing, wasn't prepared - but had fun anyway. I loved the photos, loved the people. When wonderful Winnie, she-who-coordinates, asked me to do it again, I said I would.

This year, I am Photography Contest Coordinator, according to the website and in the printed festival guide. Woohoo! I was better prepared, with markers, construction paper, scissors, pens, and tape, plus voting instructions and posters inviting people to view and vote. I was even able to answer questions from lost people who wandered by.

There were sixteen photos throughout five divisions, and they were all great. The photographers were charming and lovely people, and they totally made me want to move to a farm and get a a pack o' sheep or alpacas.

It's a people's choice photo contest, so after I posted the photos, I had to convince people to vote. I tried several tactics, but found this to be most effective:

"Would you like vote for a photo in our photo contest? It's people's choice, so if you don't vote, no one wins."

I don't know why this worked, but it did. Being merely polite didn't suffice, but making a vaguely dire prediction got a chuckle and usually a few minutes of viewing and voting.

Note to self: next year, bring posters for each division. And more tape. And clamps. And coffee.

I can't report on the awesomeness of the yarn yet - I had no time to browse, as today was Meet & Greet from noon to 2. Boomer and Bear were stars (a sure sign I am becoming immune to puppy cuteness: I had no idea they would be so popular). Several families fell in love with the foster pups. It's hard to pick one family over another, but when I stopped worrying and just thought about it, the choices were obvious. Bear will go to a sincere family with a sweet nine-year-old girl who has begged for a dog for about four years. Boomer will go to a starry-eyed young couple who want a dog to go hiking and boating and fishing, although I think his sweet kisses were a deciding factor, also.

Tomorrow, Mothers' Day, my wonderful boys will take me back to the festival so I can buy me some alpaca (mmm, alpaca) and tally votes for the photo contest, hang the ribbons, etc. I will try not to spend more than 3 hours there... but I'm making no promises.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The new mother of invention... Guilt

Guilt is a funny thing. I was supposed to turn in my chemo caps last Wednesday. I had knit 8 of them, and on Tuesday had them bagged up and ready to turn in, along with 3 or 4 unused balls of yarn.

Wednesday, I was in bed until 6:30pm with a migraine. I fired off an e-mail to the hat collector, and she said this was OK, she would get the hats Thursday or Friday. On Thursday, she e-mailed me that she would pick them up Monday.

I felt awful, that I had thrown off her donation schedule... so I knit 5 more hats. I didn't intend to, but I had lots of knitting time thanks to Sandman's practice track meet on Thursday and final track meet on Saturday. I had yarn and needles, but wasn't in the mood for a pattern, so I improvised with seed stitch, and crown patterning, and diamonds, and finally seed stitch plus ribbing plus a mushroomy-top.

I have a couple cute one-offs that need more tinkering, but my final hat design is quite nice, even in acrylic. I did two prototypes before working out my math and techniques in the blue cap pictured here. I tried the hats on me, on Sandman's pre-teen head, and on Khi's melon head, and the result was quite charming on everyone. I have designed a cap!

Instead of having just eight hats and several balls of yarn, I have 13 hats and one ball of yarn that was just too unbearably ugly to knit. You can see its less ugly sibling in the photo to the left - the Sage Butter Ombre was knit-able, but Autumn Print was just too hideously rust and brown and gold. I grew up in the seventies; I refuse to relive them in bad yarn.

Percy survives more puppies

Boomer and Bear have lots of energy. Lots. They tumble and play all the time. I realize that tumble and play room is a bit short in the bathroom where they are stabled, so I give them closely supervised playtime in other areas until they have earned my trust.

They did play time in the kitchen, and did very well. They had play time outside, which was also a success. I decided to go for play time in the living room, and after a couple short sessions, we all seemed able to maintain a satisfactory level of sanity, as long as all pens/paper/socks were put out of puppy reach.

Of course, I had put away all my knitting. Puppies love knitting - they love running with balls of yarn bigger than their heads gripped tightly between their tiny teeth. They love pulling needles out of projects. They love chewing on wooden DPNs, and the cords of circular needles with metal tips that discourage chewing. Puppy + knitting = badness. I know this, so I had put all my projects in a tote bag. No yarn dangled, no needles stuck out. Everything was tucked carefully out of puppy view.

I don't know which little puppy nose stuck itself into the knitting tote, but when I glanced down after stepping 8 feet away to close the hall closet doors... Boomer and Bear were playing tug of war with Percy.

After this discovery, I'm not sure what happened (besides a shriek). I know sharp puppy teeth were removed from lace. I know puppies were returned to the bathroom with No Chance of Parole for Some Time. I know they had somehow neither pulled Percy off the needle nor broken the size 0 bamboo circular. I checked only that much, then stuck Percy back into the tote and moved the bag off the floor. I could not check Percy for wear and tear, not yet at least.

After lalala ignoring Percy for almost a week, I have just inspected the shawl this evening. It appears unscathed. I found one loose loop near the working edge, but no obvious tears or snags anywhere else.

Poor Percy. Lucky puppies.