Archives for category: flicca

I’ve been doing lots of knitting! Most of today has been spent lounging around, knitting, watching TV, and reading. I finally finished up my Eastlake sweater and it’s all seamed and sewn, ends woven in, and blocking now. I also got around to blocking my Flicca–it’s so huge that I couldn’t block it in the bathroom sink, where I normally block my handknits, so I had to throw it in the washing machine with some Eucalan to soak and spin dry. (Grapefruit scented, my favorite.)

So Eastlake was the bulk of my knitting today, but I also knit up a pretty cream wool hat last night, I’m halfway through another hat intended as a present, and I cast on for a super secret present for Rahul. I’m not being very strategic about my gift crafting, but at least I’ve started, which is something, and proved to myself that I can at least make one hat per evening if I put my mind to it, even on work days.

I’ve been feeling kind of sore and under the weather all week, either due to fighting off infections or due to the 3 vaccines I got last week in preparation for my trip (tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough, Hepatitis A, influenza) plus the course of oral typhoid vaccine I’m halfway through right now. So I think a day filled with wearing pajamas, drinking tea, and knitting cashmere was just what I needed. Especially since the snow season in Wisconsin is here now, with several inches of fluffy snow blanketing the streets and the smaller lakes freezing over already. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go take a look at the ice on Lake Wingra.

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Sorry about the silence for a while there–I really needed that Thanksgiving break! I was drowning in work, and a week or two spent working into the wee hours of the morning paid off in allowing me to spend the long Thanksgiving weekend relatively work-free and relaxed.

On Thanksgiving day, we drove about 5 hours south to Rahul’s aunt and uncle’s house in rural central Illinois, and his parents drove up from Missouri to meet us there.  It’s deep in America’s flat, corn-filled heartland, the type of area where they show GM seed corn ads on prime time TV and you can listen to radio call-in shows dedicated to farm equipment classifieds (RFD Trading Post)–fascinating for an urban Californian! “Uh, hello, I’m interested in buying some billy goats, but I only want billy goats without horns. No horns. So if you have a billy goat with no horns, please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.” “I got some farm fresh eggs for sale. XXX-XXX-XXXX. Thanks.”

We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner–turkey with all the fixings–but some yummy Indian food the other days, too: tandoori chicken, shrimp curry, biryani, a coconut-rice vermicelli dish called shevia (the last half of the word should be pronounced in a sort of slurry of vowels and approximants, sort of like Ozzy Osborne in that Samsung commercial).

We went shopping in Springfield on Black Friday and the day after. I feel sort of ashamed to admit that I had any part of this celebration of gluttonous American consumerism, but we were fairly practical, buying useful, cold-weather things on sale like chapstick and flannel sheets and a fake-down comforter, instead of silly things like Bacon-Waves and talking football-shaped candy dishes. We did buy a semi-frivolous Roomba at a doorbuster sale but found upon opening it that it didn’t have all the features we wanted: you have to manually start it–it can’t be set up to run automatically, and it doesn’t “go home” to charge afterwards, you just have to stumble over it wherever it happened to stop vacuuming and take it back to recharge. So we returned it, and my dreams of an amazing robot maid will have to be deferred. (An aside: I think iRobot is a terrible name for a robot company, don’t you?)

We did see some good old-fashioned Black Friday douchebaggery: a woman asked Rahul to hold her place in line for a sec when we first lined up, then she came back 45 minutes later, when we were about 5 people from the front of the line, and said “Oh, there you are! Thanks for holding my place” and shamelessly ducked back into line, completely ignoring her mortified husband telling her they had to go to the end of the line. Amazingly, aside from some complaining from us, a manager, and the people directly behind her, there were essentially no consequences for her jerkface behavior: she got to check out pretty much right away. But that was the biggest drama we saw, no fistfights over Wiis or anything like that.

Aside from that, we spent lots of time vegetating and hanging out with Rahul’s family. We watched lots and lots and lots of news about Mumbai, and I saw The Godfather for the first time, and the The Last King of Scotland. Both fantastic, of course.

Plus, at the same time, I did lots and lots of knitting! I cast on for Eastlake just before we left, and knit for a total of 20+ hours over the course of 4 days during car rides and while we watched movies or TV. I was trying desperately to meet my NaKniSweMo goal of finishing Flicca plus making one more sweater during the month of November, but fell short last night, only getting a few inches into the sleeves before calling it quits for the night. Still, I made good progress, and the sweater is going to be cushy and delicious once I’m done–I’m making it in a velvety taupe worsted-weight cashmere from School Products (via Klosekraft’s destash sale), and knitting as much of it as possible in the round. The leaf motif is so addictive I think I might even make an Eastscarf.

Last but not least, I finished the Malabrigo socks that were giving me such fits before, and wrote up the pattern! It’s available as a free download, with the caveat that this is a sock pattern by a sock moron and thus is not at all guaranteed to be any good. Here they are, the Tyro Socks, knit in the lovely Indiecita colorway:

Toe-up socks written for beginners, using the yarn-over short-row toe and heel described by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts in Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy (photo tutorial included in the pattern, for sock morons like me), and a simple, softly curving lace pattern mirrored on the left and right feet. The lace pattern is easy to read and to memorize, and it’s mostly stockinette (every other row is plain knit stitches).

You may notice some visual similarities to other patterns: the Pomatomus socks and Spirogyra mitts in particular. (There may be others, too, but those are the only ones I know of.) However, despite the similarities, which only occurred to me after I’d started, I can assure you that these socks were designed the old-fashioned way, from scratch, futzing around with a stitch dictionary and doing some swatching and math to mirror the stitch pattern and make it work with the stitch count. Namely, the parent stitch pattern is the Overlapping Waves pattern in The Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns.

This is a pattern of many knitting milestones for me. First pair of socks, first sock pattern, first short-row toe, and last but not least, first semi-creepy Flickr group request for photos of my feet. Ha! I’d read all kinds of tempest-in-a-teapot discussions on Ravelry about foot fetishists lurking on knitting websites to ogle sock FO photos, but this was the first direct encounter I’d had with them.

Let there be much rejoicing: I have a Finished Object!

Pattern: Flicca, by Anna Bell

Size made: Small

Yarn used: RYC Soft Tweed, color 005 Twig, approximately 14.5 skeins

Needles used: US size 10.5/6.5 mm

Date started: September 28, 2008

Date finished: November 19, 2008

Mods:

  • Knit about 2 extra rows on collar before starting short rows; knit another 4 rows or so after completing short rows.
  • Lengthened the ribbed buttonbands to match the deeper collar
  • Knit longer in 3×1 rib than I should have (15″ instead of 12″) and knit the 2×1 rib section to 22″ instead of 24″.
  • Crocheted along the back neck and partway around the armholes for stability, rather than sewing in a ribbon
  • Made the sleeves narrower by starting with 2×1 rib instead of 3×1 rib.

Notes:

(heavy sigh.) Somehow I thought the size 10.5 needles would make this knit fly by, but it turned out to be a big slog of a sweater. It took me a month and a half, including some good long blocks of marathon knitting–this is much longer than average.

Late last night, I finished seaming it all up and weaving in the ends, put on the finished sweater, and had that terrible sinking feeling that comes from realizing you have spent a month and a half lovingly handcrafting a garment with all the figure-flattering qualities of an inflatable sumo wrestler costume or caribou suit.

In its favor, it is nice and warm, light for its size, and really cozy. I haven’t blocked it yet, partly because it won’t fit in the sink and I’m going to have to fill up the washing machine to soak it, and partly because the idea of cuddling up in it and wearing it to work all day today was so appealing. I’m assuming that the messy appearance of the ribbing will improve somewhat once I’ve blocked it.

Also, despite the instructions to the contrary in the pattern, and the prospect of carrying around a gigantic pile of knitting for longer than necessary, I think I should have modified this to be as seamless as possible: the fronts and back in one piece, the sleeves in the round, raglan decreases a la Craftoholic, and the buttonbands and collar all in one piece. The seams are so bulky in this yarn that they don’t hang nicely.

The shawl collar is knit separately from the front buttonbands and seamed to them at the base of the neckline, which is nice in the sense that you never have to deal with too many stitches on the needle at once, but the problem is that the collar keeps flipping over so the seams are visible (and they are right in the middle of the chest; you can see the collar seams quite clearly in these photos). Knitting the collar in halves and seaming along the back of the neck probably would have worked better.

Given the generous sizing, I’m glad I didn’t buy toggles or buttons to fasten the front. I think the most attractive solution for keeping it closed may be to sew a button to the side, just under the bust (where I’m holding the edge in the photos) and crochet a little button loop on the opposite front.

Anyway, I’m DONE! Finally! And that means I’ve completed half my goals for NaKniSweMo (National Knit a Sweater Month: I’m knitting along with the Stash and Burn groupies) and now I just have to finish one more sweater in November. Easy, right? I just have to pick something the size of a normal sweater rather than the size of a queen-size duvet.

More gory details about exactly how long each piece took me and how much yarn I used for each piece are on my Ravelry project page.


…because I got about halfway up the foot of my sock last night, decided tonight that I’d try it on, and realized it probably wasn’t a good idea to have lace on the SOLE of the sock as well as the instep. Frogging again. Bah.

A few new fun yarn things on the internet I looked at to cheer myself up:

The new Twist Collective is up! I’m especially fond of (read: absolutely crazy about) Sylvi, Heroine, and Broderie. And are Elli‘s Lotus Leaf mittens not an absolute work of art? I love the bright red against the semi-solid blue. I have to keep reminding myself that about 10 lbs of nearly-done sweater coat are waiting for me in the other room, whispering “buuuutton baaaaands…. buuuutton baaaaaands… kniiiiit meeeee…”

Knitpicks has a new website design!

And so does WEBS!

Planning for the winter holidays is kicking my butt. Rahul and I and my family are going to Asia around Christmas/New Year’s and have spent an ungodly amount of money and I don’t even have all my plane tickets yet. (We’re taking ELEVEN flights! It goes a little something like this: Madison-Chicago, Chicago-San Francisco, SF-Hong Kong, HK-Phnom Penh, PP-Siem Reap, SR-PP, PP-Hanoi, Hanoi-HK, HK-SF, SF-Denver, Denver-Madison.) I’ll get to see Angkor Wat, which is one of those places, like Petra, that I’ve always wanted to see, so it’s worth those extra 4 flights within Asia… but just barely. It’s just about a month and a half away, and I still need to get my visas and vaccinations and buy my plane tickets and book our hotels. Despite all the money and planning stress, I have faith that it will be an awesome vacation, and it will be a really nice getaway from the Wisconsin snow.

As if that weren’t enough stress, we’re also currently looking for housing for next fall. The search starts early around here. Some people randomly came up to my door today and said the property management company had said they could just “come by and took a look around.” I was pretty ungracious about this, but since I was actually showered and dressed, I let them in to take a quick look, and then called the property management company and gave them a piece of my mind about it.

I would be happy to stay where we are, but we’re pretty sure we can find someplace decent with cheaper rent, so we’re trying to find someplace new. The funny thing about this all is that we’re paying $200 a month less than what we paid for our crappo apartment in Berkeley 5+ years ago (the one with plywood doors and a Swamp Thing carpet and a nice view on Sunday mornings straight into the dump truck that would come take all the dog and cat corpses away from the vet hospital across the street). That was a bargain apartment, too, because it had been handed from tenant to tenant and so it had been rent-controlled for years.

“What do we want?”

“BRAAAAAAIIIINNS!!!”

“When do we want them?”

“BRAAAAAAINNNS!!!”

This was the rousing call to undead political action that echoed through the streets of Madison, Wisconsin last Saturday at the 2008 Zombie Lurch. Like dead rights activist Reg Shoe, whose livejournal can be read here, these fine members of the postmortem population were lurching for zombie rights (and delectable brains.)

We stopped by to see them and saw an impressive zombie “Thriller” synchronized dance routine:

The zombies included hikers who had met with some kind of unfortunate ancient evil on their backpacking trip, a scientist who had been bitten by a rabid possum, and a zombie holding a “Zombies for McCain” sign–unfortunately, I didn’t get close-ups of most of them.



Check out the zombie biker at the left of this photo:

A neuroscientist was monitoring the situation while protesting zombie brain waste:

Local news story here, youtube photo montage with excellent soundtrack choice here. (You can see the top of my head (in turquoise bike helmet) in the foreground at 1:36. I’m faaaamous!)

The zombies started at the Capitol building and lurched down the main drag, State Street, until they reached the university. Every so often, the calls of “BRAAAAAINS” would be interrupted by a moan of “BUUUUSSSS,” and the seemingly chaotic mob of zombies would flow smoothly over to one side of the street to let the bus go by.

A woman standing outside Ben and Jerry’s said to me in a puzzled, wondering tone, “What would ever possess a group of people to get together and do something like this?”

Whatever the reasons–delicious brains, camaraderie, Halloween, a sense of humor, raising awareness of Election Day next Tuesday–it was fun! Our friends Steve and Jeanne were visiting us over the weekend, and even their dog Nola got into the undead act:

Back in the land of the living, here’s what’s on my needles (STILL Flicca: I’m perhaps 1/3 of the way through the sleeves now, and then I’ll have to set them in and knit the collar and front bands. This cardigan is taking forever):

And here’s what’s on my wheel:
3.5 beautiful ounces of hand-painted merino in “Tapestry” from my new favorite Etsy seller, Bee Mice Elf. I’m currently trying to produce soft, thick, knittable, self-striping singles, but I have a tendency to spin too fine:

She also sent along this little sample with my order:

It’s the same stuff I spun up for my Quantette, and I also spun up some of her merino in the “Early Drop” colorway last month–spun over the fold for extra bounce, and twisted into a two-ply:


She doesn’t have too much listed in her shop at the moment, but you can special order a 4 oz. braid of any of her fall/winter color collections anytime, and they’re all totally gorgeous. I think the Quiet collection is my favorite, particularly Pensive Plum.

The Urban and Coastal collections aren’t up on her photostream yet, but you can see them in her sold items by clicking through those links.

My parents (Dad and stepmom) came to visit me in Madison! Now they’re in Chicago (or possibly on their way back to CA by now). I miss them! It was kind of a whirlwind, last-minute, chaotic kind of trip, but we managed to fit in a good trip to the St. Vincent de Paul Dig ‘n’ Save, where you buy clothes for $1.00 a pound and junk for 35 cents a pound. Rahul and I had a great trip there before where I came away with a ton of good stuff–among other things, a really cute boiled wool rust-and-green colorwork jacket, a Brooks Brothers seersucker skirt, an adorable Vera Bradley zippered pouch with tiny owls on it.

This time around I found a trove of cute patterns from the 70s and 80s, including this one, Simplicity 4867–how awesome is the top right view? It reminds me very much of wikstenmade’s beautiful Tova top (right down to the similarity of the model’s hairstyle to Jenny’s!) Also Butterick 4631, a collection of yoked peasant tops with pockets. This one, Simplicity 5497, is very, very dated, but the asymmetrical ruffled button front seems like it might have potential. I couldn’t find the last one online (McCall’s 4866), but it includes a very cute dress and blouse with mandarin collar and round pintucked, button-up yoke.

I also got a brown leather Fossil/Relic purse in pretty good condition, and a blouse that turned out to be a little too small. The purse + shirt + 4 patterns cost me $1.35!

Anyway, although my parents have left, I have plenty of stuff coming up this next week to distract me. Mary and I are going to teach her Hindi teacher’s kid to spin Saturday morning (she’s 8 years old and wants to learn to spin cotton on a charkha! and weave! just like Grandma!) and then Rahul and I are seeing the Magnetic Fields on Saturday night. My uncle will be in town next week, as will an old friend from Berkeley, though both are here for conferences and I don’t know how much time they’ll have to spend on social events. Monday night is also the next meeting of the Madison Knitters’ Guild and Vivian Høxbro is coming to speak; I think I might go and see her.

Other crap: I’ve finished the back and one front of Flicca. Still no pictures, though.

This fake A-Ha video made my day: Band montage!

In response to my blog post mentioning that I’d heard Jelly Yarns make good drive bands for spinning wheels, I got a free sample to try out. Isn’t that nice of them? I’m looking forward to giving it a spin.

And my parents said they kept wondering when I was going to post something about the election. Well, there are other venues that do the ranting better (how could I even scratch the surface of this whole Sarah Palin debacle?) so for the most part I leave the political talk out of here, but I did want to share this story that I saw for the first time recently: McCain calls his captors “gooks” and refuses to apologize. (On the topic of Vietnam PTSD, did you know he also addressed a crowd recently as “my fellow prisoners” rather than “my fellow citizens,” and didn’t seem to notice the slip-up?)

Guy Aoki, the president of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, sums it up pretty well, I think: “If Sen. McCain had been captured by Nigerians, could he call those people ‘niggers’ and think he wasn’t going to offend everyone who is black?”