Archives for posts with tag: cabled

OK, aside from “have a happy one,” I don’t have much to say about Halloween, actually. We forgot to carve a pumpkin this year, and our costumes are homemade but pretty half-assed (I’m wearing a Kittyville hat, Rahul’s wearing his mustache hat.) I have a bag of Fun Size Kit Kats at the ready (but this size is the least fun of all! They should name the Costco-sized, bigger-than-Family-Size, baking-and-industrial-use-only candy bars “Fun Size.”) No children have come by, yet, though.

Mainly, I’m really looking forward to the show we’re going to in a couple of hours: local Madison bands are impersonating greats of the past, many of which are particular favorites of mine: Spinal Tap, Nirvana, Oasis, the Stone Roses, Weezer, and the Kinks.

Aside from that, tomorrow is a big crazy Halloween party in downtown Madison (not sure if we’ll go) and more than that, tomorrow is my trip with fiber-lovin’ friends to the Wisconsin Spin-In! It’s nearly 2 hours away, but hopefully will be lots of fun.

Here are two things I want to share with you today:

Are you ready to see the cutest baby sloth in the entire world and squeal over sleepy sloth cuteness? Then watch this Youtube video. Sneezing panda, you have been deposed from the Youtube animal baby throne.

Also, I just published a new cowl pattern named Metheglin. I’ve been working on this for ages (Nicole helped me test knit this back when I was still in Bloomington) and I finally finished reformatting the chart and instructions. You can see the details of the pattern here. It’s kind of Teva Durham-meets-Louis Comfort Tiffany, kind of science fictiony, kind of Arts and Craftsy, and because it uses so little yarn, it’s a great showcase for small amounts of something special–a variegated or self-striping main yarn would look great in this pattern, contrasted with a solid color.

I’ve been wearing these cowls a ton while I’m working at home. The garter stitch makes a thick, dense, cozy fabric that traps heat around my neck like a little chimney, and the tidy cowl feels much easier and less cumbersome than wearing a scarf at home. I like the fact that the base of the cowl flares to cover the top of my chest, an area that gets cold easily. (I’d call that area the dickey zone, but that sounds like something else entirely.) The only problem with wearing it is that I really look like a crazy woman when I’m all kitted up in my usual work-at-home outfit of blue penguin pajama pants, handpainted, handknit sweater, and this cowl and the UPS guy comes to the door to have me sign for a package. At least I’m warm.



So here’s yet more yarn I spun up. This is the 4 oz. of indigo-dyed Coopworth from Handspun by Stefania I bought at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. It was such a dream to work with, smooth and easy to spin, I couldn’t stop working with it…

It started as roving:

Z-spun singles were not enough, so I made them into an S-twisted two-ply:

And then the two-ply was not enough, so I plied it again, with a Z twist, making it into my first cabled yarn:

Gorgeous, isn’t it? In some lights it reads with a greenish tint, almost teal, while in full natural sunlight it looks closer to a pure, cool blue between cornflower and cobalt.

I have about 93 yards of it. I kind of wanted to do a cabled hat to take advantage of the roundness of the yarn, but I don’t think I have enough yarn for that… what to do? Perhaps colorwork, or a contrasting brim? I have some cabled Di Ve’ Zenith in frosty gray that might work in terms of texture and weight. Or I could just start with cables from the top down and see what happens–perhaps it’s enough, if I use large enough needles.

I’ve been so obsessed with spinning fibers on Etsy lately. I keep clicking around and putting things in my cart and then taking them back out again. But I couldn’t resist buying this champagne-colored baby camel-tussah silk fiber when I saw it on sale:

I hadn’t spun with it before; I was pretty much 100% inspired by rainydaygoods’ post about her little glowing camel-silk sample from A Verb for Keeping Warm. (And also the incredible sensual pleasure of seeing and touching Handmaiden Camelspin.) Coming off my experience with spinning buffalo fiber, I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be up to the task of spinning it.

But as it turns out, it is the dreamiest stuff I’ve ever touched. Fluffy and buttery soft, it’s easy to draft, and it wants to be spun fine and smooth and even. I worked up a tiny sample skein and then a little sample lace swatch from that, on size 6’s:

After petting the swatch for a while, I shook myself back to my senses and went back to finishing the bulkier yarns I had on my wheel (spinning some BFL, sampling the CSA fiber from Four Crows Farm, spinning up a rainbow tweed batt I bought in Point Reyes)… but I’m saving the camel-silk for a spinning treat for myself. Once I finish all the faster spinning, I’ll settle down to the hours and hours of creamy laceweight camel-silk. And I’ll have to come up with a perfect pattern for Camelspin, both store-bought and handspun.

I’ve been tagged for two memes–I’ll do Kristen’s first, because I’ve been thinking about it for a bit.

Both these memes are meant to be about me. I find it much more difficult to write about myself than to write about external things like books or knitting… perhaps because I find it stressful to be the center of attention, or perhaps for the same reason I’ve found it hard to answer when people say “what’s X person like?” or “what was it like to live in X place?” For complex subjects I know well, I don’t construct a simple narrative about them the same way I do for simple subjects or people/places I know only in passing. I should practice coming up with “elevator speeches” if I think I’ll be asked about something, but honestly, I never think about it until the question drops and I’m left stymied and stammering and going into far more detail than the person asking really wanted.

Anyway, here’s the six-word memoir I decided to write.

Searching for happiness. Is happiness enough?

Growing up, whenever I blew out the candles on my birthday cake, or blew dandelion fluff clean away, I always closed my eyes and simply wished to be happy. I didn’t ask for particular things to happen or for particular items. I wished for a state of mind. Mostly, as an adult, I’ve been successful in that. But–the essence of my quarterlife crisis–

Is happiness enough?

I went to Quaker church last Sunday with Rahul. The church is non-hierarchical, so you sit in silence in the meeting of Friends, and when someone feels moved to speak by the Holy Spirit, they stand up and say their piece. Best church I’ve ever been to, though being more spiritual than religious, I don’t know that I really believe in the Holy Spirit or a personified God. Anyway, someone stood up at church and talked about a successful lawyer who had been moved to drop his career and move down to Nicaragua to live in a shack.

“What would the world be like,” the speaker said, “if all Christians felt like it was their Christian duty to be poor?”

Now, I don’t think that has to mean moving to Nicaragua and living in a shack. Studies have shown that money does buy happiness, up to a certain point, once your basic needs are met and you don’t feel afraid about where your next meal will come from. But what if we actively aspired to stop wanting at that point? Not passively, with the “camel through the eye of a needle” proverb in the back of the mind, or with alms or tithing as a sort of duty separate from ourselves, but actively, as a pillar of faith. What if we tried, like Buddhists (and not the kind of consumerist Buddhism that comes from buying prayer flags and wearing yoga pants) to let our desires fall away and ignore the I want mindset? If we stopped asking for more money, promotions, power, stopped buying stuff except when we needed it? What if we focused on love and simplicity and the things that please us?

What if we didn’t need more? Could it be enough to be happy?

I think we tend to give lip service to this idea, but in practice, without thinking about it, we value money, objects, status, and achievement more. We secretly look down on people who reach a certain point in their careers, not too high up the ladder, and then stop advancing, calling these “dead-end careers.” But is it always better to be at the top? You get more money and more status, but (depending on your particular position) you may trade off free time and your level of stress may skyrocket. There was some movie about this a few years back, where a very happy temp worker got hired full-time and his life went to hell.

I don’t mean to advocate selfishness, of course, or hedonism to the detriment of the greater good, and I’m all in favor of making enough money to take care of yourself both now and in the future. And it makes life so much easier to have lots of money, no question. But there’s a feeling in personal lives analogous to our ideas about the economy that more is better, growth is necessary, but what if it’s not only unnecessary but harmful? I read this interesting story in the Atlantic Monthly called Fear of fallowing: the specter of a no-growth world (abstract here) that goes into these ideas a bit, on an economic/societal scale rather than a strictly personal one–Collapse, by Jared Diamond, does as well, but then Diamond is a successful author and professor and doesn’t really need to worry about his place in the world.

So, without going too far into the details, and without addressing consumerism (I have a wee problem with loving and acquiring stuff, though I’ve gotten much better about it in recent years) my current crisis is that despite sometimes feeling like I’ve never been happier, I get this vague itchy feeling like I ought to be doing more, achieving more, or making more money. But what if I already have enough? What if I could, but I don’t want to, and what if that’s enough? (Maybe I should move to Bhutan, where they measure and deeply value their Gross National Happiness.)

I’m feeling this crisis particularly right now because, well, I just filed my taxes and am feeling extremely poor and angry and grudgingly, selfishly in favor of this idiotic economic stimulus plan, because it will mean another $600 in my pocket. But on the other hand, I don’t really need it, I just hate having to pay the government a big chunk of money, and I know I could be making more. I can pay my rent and my bills and sock away money every month for retirement. And I have lots of free time and mental balance right now. But I can’t help thinking, sort of longingly, of the days when I had a lot more money and a lot less free time and general happiness.

I mean, springtime is finally here in Bloomington, and just look at it! Magnolias, sunshine, rainbow scarves, forsythia… would I really rather be stuck in a cubicle or in meetings in an office park until 10 PM, making a bit more money? (Um… maybe? Check back in with me in a year…)

Observe:

A star magnolia outside the public library:

Pink trees on 3rd Street:

A reversible scarf pattern I’ve been working on, called “The Water is Wide”–it will have 3 variations, and I’m working on the 3rd right now. Here are variations 1 and 2.

The main version shows wave cables on one side and a quilted “gull stitch” ribbing on the other side. It’s knit in Malabrigo Silky Merino in Indiecita, 2 skeins. I have lots of nice pictures of this that I took this weekend around the IU campus. I’ll share more later, but here are some of the outtakes I don’t plan to use in the final pattern:
Too nipply:


Shows construction in the background:

And here are some photos of version 2, a version showing quilted rib on both sides, knit with 2 skeins of Noro Kureyon and 1 skein of Plymouth Boku, all striped together. I might use some of these photos for the final pattern–I’m pleased with how they came out, but then I have a real weakness for rainbow-striped scarves, so how could I have gone wrong?
In the star magnolia:

Floating in forsythia:

TP

Close up

Far off

(Version 3 will show wave cables on both sides, but I ran out of yarn and have to wait for more to come in the mail. I hope the dyelots are similar. I love it so far–it’s luscious–but it eats yarn like crazy.)

This NPR story inspired the meme, and here are the guidelines:

Here are the guidelines, should you choose to participate in this yourself:

  • Write your own six word memoir.
  • Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
  • Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
  • Tag five more blogs with links.

I hereby tag:

  1. Goldtop, in revenge exchange for tagging me with the “seven things” meme
  2. gleek
  3. Emilee
  4. Kate
  5. Big Sister

(Apologies if you’ve been tagged before… I didn’t do a search to check. And no obligations here. It was definitely hard to figure out what to write in my 6-word bio, so totally I’ll understand if you don’t want to.)

And anyone else who wants to be tagged, please do participate and let me know!

I screwed up!

So a few days ago, I finished making my presents, went down to Hobby Lobby to get gift bags, wrapped everything up, wrote up little cards and care instructions, put everything in big boxes and drove down to UPS to mail them, with a great sense of pride and accomplishment swelling in my chest.

Then I found out it would cost $63 for each of my two packages to get them to California by Christmas! I don’t have that much holiday spirit. So my presents won’t arrive till the Friday after Christmas.

Here are two more of the Christmas projects I finished.


Pattern: Fiber Trends Felted Clogs

Yarn used: Unfortunately, I have no idea of how much yarn I used, since one was handspun and the other was recycled. Some amount of my neverending hyacinth violet Lopi, some amount of black walnut-dyed handspun Romney singles, both single-stranded. The yarns were really hard to felt–I had to run them through the washer on hot three times, and they still came out kind of fraternal, but at that point I had run out of other clothes to wash with them and lost patience with trying to get them exactly the same size.

The Romney singles didn’t felt very evenly or completely, as some areas were very energized and others were quite underspun and soft–but it did felt to an interesting and pleasing kind of boucle texture that worked well as the trim/contrast color on the clogs.

I quite like the lavender and light brown combination.

Needles used: US size 13/9.00 mm

Started: 12/13/07

Finished: Finished knitting 12/16/07. Took another day to felt, and one more day after that to caulk the bottoms.

Size: Women’s Small. Pre-felting, the clogs were roughly 13.5″ long, 6.5″ across instep at widest point, 21″ around ankles, and 6″ high.
pre-felted clogs

pre-felted clogs 2.

Post-felting, they were roughly 11″ long. 5.5″ across instep, 14.5″ around ankle, and 3″ high.

Subjectively, this meant that they fit my feet reasonably well lengthwise, but were very loose around the instep.

Mods: I accidentally knit the outer sole and bumper in the main color instead of the contrast color. The bumper was showing little blips of the wrong color and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Then I looked at the pattern again and realized that I was supposed to knit them in brown instead of lavender. Hence the brown blips showing up where I had picked up stitches.

The other thing I did was, instead of purling, to just turn around and knit the other direction in the round where it calls for 6 rounds of reverse Stockinette stitch at the ankle. I figured it was being felted anyway, so why not? I don’t usually hate purling that much, but it really wasn’t fun with the big thick needles.

Notes: I made these for my great-aunt for Christmas. I don’t know what size shoe she wears, so perhaps they’ll fit her better than they fit me.

Some research on this pattern on Ravelry revealed that there are two versions of this pattern, and you’re SOL if you bought the old version and want to upgrade to the new one. You just have to buy it again! I thought that was pretty annoying.

I knit the old version, AC-33x, printed on teal paper. The new version is labeled AC-33 and is printed on white paper. The newer version is apparently narrower than the old version. It seems like the new version would fit my feet much better than the old version, but I’m not sure I want to shell out for the pattern again. The designer suggested that I could leave out one or two plain rows from the sole to make it narrower, but apparently there are many other changes to the new version, including the decreases being moved around to different places.

I wear a women’s size 6.5 or 7, but after testing the pattern this time, I think I’d make the women’s size small despite the admonition that it’s only suitable up to size 6. It seemed still quite loose on me.

I added stripes of latex caulk to the bottom for traction. Nicole’s advice was to use latex caulk instead of silicone caulk, which gets very slippery when wet. I took this advice, but despite her excellent clog-caulking tutorial, I totally forgot to buy a caulk gun and ended up digging out caulk from the container with DPNs and slathering it over the soles–hence the somewhat skimpy amount shown here. The only color I could find was white, which seems to get dirty VERY fast, but better that than super slippery clogs. Unfortunately, I didn’t put enough on the soles to find out how effectively they retain traction on wet surfaces. They seemed pretty good, but there is so much exposed felt, I’m not totally sure, and I found the clogs getting so dirty from my sliding around the bathroom floor that I decided to stop all clog-testing immediately in the interest of keeping them looking at least somewhat new.

I have a lot of Lamb’s Pride worsted stashed away to make this pattern again–twice, once for myself, once for my boyfriend. I feel kind of sad that it didn’t fit me that well, but perhaps with a more quickly felting yarn and the two plain rows removed from the sole, it will be OK this time.

For my great-uncle, I made this:

Pattern: Jared Flood‘s Koolhaas, from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007, now also available as a single pattern from the Knitting Daily pattern store

Yarn used: Plymouth Encore Worsted in 0149 Light Blue Heather, left over from my Tilted Duster, about 0.75 skein

Needles used: Size 6/4.0 mm for the ribbing, US size 8/5.0 mm for the rest of the hat

Started: 12/17/07

Finished: 12/17/07

Size: 18″ around, unstretched; 8.25″ high.

Mods: When I was knitting the first Koolhaas I made, I thought it would be interesting to try using twisted stitches instead of cable crosses. So I used the following twisted stitches throughout the hat:

Where
“1st st” = closest to needle tips (distal)
“2nd st” = farther from needle tips (proximal):

1/1 LPC: knit 2nd st through back loop from behind and leave on needle, knit both sts tbl, drop from needle.

1/1 RPC and 1/1 RC: k2tog and leave on needle, knit 1st st again, drop from needle.

I prefer working right crosses with twisted stitches, and I think they look cleaner, so I substituted a right cross instead of a left cross on rows 3 and 7. However, I didn’t notice until I got to the decreases at the crown that the decreases would start spiraling the opposite way. Oops. Because I was in a hurry to get this done, I wasn’t about to rip back or rewrite the decreases to use k2tog, so I just let the crown go the other way. Perfectionists will doubtless be disturbed to their core by the untidiness of this substitution.

Notes:
The twisted stitches have better stitch definition than the cables–they really pop!–but they also cause little tiny holes all over the knitted fabric. They’re faster and less fiddly to do, I think, but in the final analysis, I think the original pattern’s 1-over-1 cables are superior.

The holes are really only visible when the fabric is stretched out, so if there were an application for this pattern with positive ease, I think the twists would be a suitable substitute. However, since this hat is a few inches smaller than the average head, the holes do become visible when the hat is worn.

The twisted stitch version came out a little bit larger than the cabled version. I don’t know if this was partly due to the difference in yarn, but the needles were the same and I knit them right around the same time.

I took some side-by-side photos and some closeups so you can see for yourself and decide. Obviously, the brown hat in the photos is the Koolhaas made the proper way, and the blue hat is the twisted stitch version.




Cable pattern, stretched out:

Twisted stitch pattern, stretched out:



The bagatelles continue.

Obligatory super-close-up:

Zooming out:

Twisty hat goodness

The cleverly integrated and immensely satisfying crown decreases:

Pattern: Jared Flood‘s Koolhaas, from the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts issue

Yarn used: Valley Yarns Northampton in Chestnut Heather

Needles used: Size 6 16″ Denises for ribbing, size 8 16″ Denises and bamboo DPNs for main part of hat

Started: 11/8/07

Finished: 11/9/07

Size: approx 17″ x 8″, unstretched (my gauge was slightly off)

Mods: Possible errata? The pattern has you slip the last stitch to the right on rounds where the end of round marker moves to the left. I worked this stitch instead of slipping it, because I thought it might be a typo–it makes sense when the marker moves to the right, so you don’t work the stitch twice, but I didn’t see the logic when the stitch moves to the left, because then you have one stitch at the end of your round that’s worked for one less row than all the other stitches. Other than that change, none.

Notes: I am totally in love with this yarn in this color. Northampton is pretty similar to Cascade 220, but cheaper, at $5 for 247 yards (and that’s discountable!) and already put up in skeins, so you don’t have to wind it. It’s soft, and the Chestnut Heather is pretty much my Platonic ideal for a brown yarn. It reminds me of the bars of very expensive dark chocolate I used to buy at Bittersweet as indulgences. (I think moving away from Bittersweet is about 75% of the reason I lost ~10 pounds when I moved to Indiana.) Rich, dark, complex, delicious. It’s coming across as a bit too red in the photos, because the sun was catching all the tiny red threads in the heather mix. The color on the WEBS page is pretty true, maybe slightly lighter than the yarn in person.

I originally bought the yarn to make a Stewart & Brown peasant cap knockoff (warning, that links to a pattern PDF). I hope I have enough left over (approx. 1.5 skeins) to make it.

The pattern is fairly fast and easy, though the many, many cable crossings got kind of arduous, so I would like to swatch for this hat using left and right twists rather than cables, i.e.

RT: k2tog, leaving both sts on left needle; knit the stitch closest to the left needle tip again, drop both sts from needle.

LT: from the back, knit the second stitch from the left needle tip through the back loop, then knit both the first and second stitch through the back loop, drop both stitches from the needle.

Ariel Barton’s article in Knitty talks about other ways to do the same thing.

I messed up and neglected to do a few knit-over-knit left twists on one round, and ended up duplicate stitching over those crossings with a piece of spare yarn after an excruciating 15 minutes trying to ladder four stitches down about 5 rows and hook the stitches back up with a crochet hook. Not a good idea when there are as many cable crossings as this hat has. Anyway, I don’t think the fix is really noticeable. I am definitely not a perfectionistic knitter.