Thursday, January 25, 2007

Relativity

So at long last the winter temperatures have arrived. Today it crossed over from cold into Damn Cold, and so I think to myself, you know, in Fredricton it's going to be -21 C tonight. In Quebec City? -25. Which really should put that -18 C we're supposed to get overnight into perspective. And besides, even though it's cold, it's not keeping us from some pretty sunsets, right?


Then there's the thesis which, as I go through and re-write what I printed off last term, makes me wonder if I'll do it well. No matter how well I write, how much will I have missed, how many books won't I have referenced, how many sources won't I have cited? And then as I go and pull out an old essay from 4 years ago to use for material I realize, as I'm re-writing that, just how much I've improved.

And then we have this sad, sad specimen of two weeks' worth of knitting:
That's a roll-brim toque (made to fit using the Yarn Harlot's recipe in Knitting Rules!), and one and 1/30th of a glove. The sad part is, I did most of the rest of the first glove months ago: it was re-doing the fingertips that took me three nights to fix. Half a thumb in one night, from me, who managed to knit a pair of size-13 men's socks in two weeks? I ask you. I don't think there's a relative coordinate system out there to make that into a good accomplishment.

But as the -15 C + wind chill hit me today I was eternally grateful for the Gryffindor House scarf I made last year, double thickness in Elann Highland Wool:
So relative to, say -15 C without the cozy knitting around my neck? Definitely something I can get behind.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Indulgences

It being the end of the first week back, my friend C and I celebrated with one of our biannual expeditions to the nearby french fry truck for poutine & veggie dogs. Now, I should say that the veggie dogs are crucial here, whether or not you are a vegetarian, because it puts a slightly-less-insane ceiling on your total caloric intake.

Just look at those beauties. That was at 2:30 this afternoon. It's now almost 11pm and I don't think I've felt hunger again yet. It took 2L of water to keep me from a total grease coma but it was worth it.

...
The weather here this winter has so far been so mild, I can probably count on one hand the number of daytime highs we've had below freezing. But look what it's driving the wildlife to!

That's a raccoon, scoping out the steps of a building on campus. This was the best pic I could get of the little feller. I saw him as I waited for a streetcar. He drew some attention from the assembled TTC riders. I wonder if he was lost, or just roaming.

...
And in my knitting life, I have stash. This much of it:

Does it look tiny? As yon Yarn Harlot once referred to stash that could fit in a box as "cute", this probably isn't far off. I've got a good 4 pairs of socks worth in there, and some leftover acrylic boucle (Bernat Illusion, left from an afghan that didn't want to end) that is probably destined for a hat/scarf combo. And enough worsted to shake a stick at. The white would do a sweater nicely, but I don't know if white is really for me.

So in the meantime I'm finishing up these puppies, in Austermann Step #20. This colourway has a nice gradient to it, but I do miss the other style, with the blocks of bright colour broken up with lines of white. Still my favourite sock yarn.


Happy weekend knitting, everyone! I think I'm off to dine on a hearty meal of Cheerios.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Branching Out

Last weekend I finished my first Branching Out scarf, which will be a belated birthday present for a friend. She'd requested a scarf, and I wanted to do something more exciting than your garden variety 2x2 ribbing. This looked like fun to try some lace. (Little did I know that it's the de rigeur scarf out there, according to Sis!)

I made this with two skeins of KnitPicks' Andean Treasure in Lilac, which is a 100% baby alpaca sport weight. The finished size was 64x6.5 inches, just over 5 feet long. The purple has a nice heather-ish quality to it, and is the softest you could imagine. I found myself imagine a whole blanket or shawl out of it as I was knitting the scarf. The only downside I could imagine for this yarn is it is so fuzzy and gentle, I'd be afraid of pilling. But it's a dream to knit with. I also found some nice, 8-inch bamboo needles to work on - straights tend to make my wrists cramp up, but the bamboos are nice and light. I think I'm pretty well sold on them now too.


This pattern is introduced as a good beginner lace project, and I'd never tried it before. The pattern repeat is only 10 rows, which was perfect. At first it was frustrating because I couldn't figure out what the stitches were trying to do - it didn't feel like how you knit with cables, and can see what all the twists are working out to. In the beginning I got through 3 pattern repeats but had made too many mistakes to keep going, and ripped out the whole thing and started over. After a second start, and a few lifelines threaded through for safety, I started to get the hang of it. After about 15 or 20 repeats I felt comfy and could go on without the chart. Something that really helps keep you on pattern is the line of knit stitches right up the centre.


Now, I'd read the Yarn Harlot talking about the magic of blocking lace, and was tantalized by the idea of it. Before blocking, the pattern was pretty well visible in the scarf, but the sides were curling in and it didn't have much shape. But after blocking, just like that, the whole thing came out clean and flat, all the leaves in the pattern showed up nice and clear, and the yarn-over holes just pop. Blocking is magic, what do you know?


It's going to be hard not to steal this one for myself, I tell ya. But after this project, call me smitten with lace. Once I've worked through all my sock and sweater stash, I think I'll look out for a good shawl pattern.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Ten Lords a' Leaping

Campus opens again tomorrow. But by my count there are still two days left of Christmas, so I'm procrastinating holding out for a while longer. Let me tell you about the holidays first.

First there was a little tree:


Then a big tree:


And there was Christmas Eve at church:


Then there was food. Lots of food. Oog. Then there were gifts! (The socks for my grandpa and aunt were a hit.)


...and dinner (more food):


Then there were a few days rest, in which there was some knitting:


And we were on the road again:


And stopped for apple pie on the way:

Merlin wants to get down...


But we weren't fraidy cats because we walked by this haunted house:


And G finished MORE socks:


And I finished my first "Branching Out" scarf! (More to come.)

After ringing in the New Year we drove back in weather that was freakishly not cold at all.


Now, I'll go collect a second cup of tea and some knitting. I don't think I'm ready to be done with holidays yet.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Happy New Blog

Well, mostly I blame her for this, but also that I'm weak about shiny new Internet things. Let's call this a spot for random bits of fun, knitting, and influences of the day-to-day. Happy 2007!