December 30, 2013

Surprise FO

I couldn't talk about this one when I actually finished it, since it was a gift for my friend Sam, who is one of the three people who actually read this blog.

This is The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower Yarns (I blocked it to be more wingy and less triangular because I have no blocking wires). 

I used yarn from the Mean Girls Yarn Club inspired by Scar from the Lion King (colorway name: Pussyfootin') because the colors are just the ones Sam loves; plus I thought the "rusty" nature of them suited the pattern name.  My picture above sadly does this colorway little justice--it is SO pretty (and I'm not usually into warm colors!)  I also adored this pattern--it was easy but interesting, and using a DK weight and size 8 needles made it a breeze!  I will be making another for myself.

December 9, 2013

A long overdue FO

I forgot to mention that at the beginning of the month I finally finished my Trillian.

I was supposed to finish this for a KAL back in August...oops.

December 8, 2013

Adventures in Dyeing Takes 3 and 4

As mentioned in my previous post, I spent a whole day last weekend messing around with different Kool Aid/food coloring dyeing techniques.  My two more successful skeins resulted from trying two different things.

For the first skein, I wanted to create a turquoise gradient because I was inspired by my recent trip to the Caribbean and the beautiful water there.  To do this, I followed the tutorial for the Dip Dye method described in an article on Knitty.

I mixed up McCormick food coloring again, this time Neon Blue and Neon Green, which was supposed to create a turquoise (at least, according to McCormick's mixing guide for icing).  However, my final color ended up being much more of a green-teal, possibly because my yarn wasn't pure white (I used Knit Picks Bare in fingering weight, which is slightly off-white).  Still pretty though!

Here are some "action" shots of the Dip Dyeing method, for which I used my crock pot:

Slowly yet surely...
Hanging to dry

The final skein!  Not the color I was aiming for, but I love it anyway.

My only problem with this skein is that it won't stop bleeding.  I'd rinse it and the water would run clear and I'd leave it hanging, only to come back later and give it a squeeze and it would be bleeding again.  I think I need to heat it up in some water/vinegar to really set it.

The last method I played with was the Hot Pour method, which is described in that same Knitty article.  I hadn't exhausted my teal bath at the end of the gradient experiment, so I saved some of that to use, as well as mixing up a reddish orange and a purple to contrast.

Looks a little muddy here, but it actually turned out okay!

I like this one, but I do wish there was less white...wondering if I could overdye it a smidge just to get rid of the white areas, but no idea what color would work.  Maybe a pinky-purple? (I have a thing for purple, I can't help it!)

I'd definitely like to play with these methods again--maybe do a light immersion dye before the hot pour next time?  I also have to try the Cold Pour method described in that Knitty article, too!  So many things I want to try, so little time...

December 7, 2013

Adventures in Dyeing, Take 2: The Fail (?)

Last weekend I played around with food color/Kool Aid dyeing again.  I actually tried three different things, but I'll discuss the other two later since they turned out far better than the first experiment did.

I decided to trying over-dyeing a skein of yarn again, since I had a flavor I was pretty sure I wouldn't use for another project.  The skein in question was Knit Picks Stroll in the colorway Cartoons, which is a very bright rainbow colorway.  (I used some of it for my knitted monster because I thought it was a very kid-friendly colorway, but beyond that it was a little TOO bright for my tastes).

The original rainbow craziness.

I decided to try to use actual Kool Aid this time, and to over-dye the skein green.  I used the immersion dyeing method (basically, heat up the color in water and vinegar, blopped the skein in until the dyebath cleared, done).

My first attempt was not super successful:
Barely colored at all! Boo.

So, I prepared a new dye bath using McCormick food coloring (green with a dash of blue), and re-did the skein again using the same method.  It came out a little darker, but not nearly as dark as I wanted.

The second attempt turned out little better.

Strangely, I don't totally hate it.  However, I'm thinking I should have over-dyed it blue rather than green; the red areas would have turned purple, the yellows to greens, etc.  Oh well, you live you learn, right?  I may play with it some more, but we shall see.

November 4, 2013

Putting a spin on it

Several years ago, my friend Kate decided to take up spinning.  I remember watching her and thinking to myself that it seemed far too complicated and I had no desire whatsoever to learn.  Dyeing? Sure.  Spinning? No.

You will not be surprised to learn that I seem to have changed my mind.  Once again, I have podcasts to blame for this, because so many podcasters seem to spin.  They're always talking about all kinds of different fibers and spindles, and I'm listening half-lost and wanting so badly to understand, and also sort of warming up to the idea of spinning because its also something old-timey, and I will totally be able to survive the apocalypse if I learn (and if sheep are available). Also, I feel like being able to spin, dye, and knit up a project would be like some kind of knitting hat trick (GOAL!).

My friend Sam seems to also have caught the spinning bug, because as I mentioned in the previous post, she went to a class to learn the secret codes.  I am totally jealous (extra free time is an issue for me at the moment because of other activities).  We keep sending each other links to fiber and random spindles and wishing spinning wheels weren't so freaking expensive (wistful sigh!)

I'm still trying to figure out what I even need to start.  A spindle, of course.  Fiber (but what kind?)...beyond that I have no idea (spinners--any tips??)

November 1, 2013

Knitting in the dark

I've always been a little envious of people who have movie socks or movie projects.  I am completely unable to divide my attention between a new feature film and a knitting project--I have to be focused on one or the other.  Then there's that whole knitting in the dark thing.  Despite the fact that I've been knitting for five years now, I still have to look at it.  I can't look away and keep going, or knit by feel.

My friend Sam was talking to me about knitting in the dark the other day (she can't do it either), and when she admitted this while taking a spinning class at our LYS, the other women there looked at her like she was crazy.

So, fellow knitters--how many of you can knit in the dark?  Are we some kind of odd ducks who can't?  Is this a skill I should have added to my repertoire ages ago?

October 21, 2013

Stop organizing, start knitting!

My stash got out of control, so this weekend when I was in a cleaning/organizational mood I rearranged it.  I added some yarn weights, and arranged them in order from thinnest to thickest (OCD alert)--it looks the same (I'm still using the cubes seen in this post and this post), only more of the bins are labeled now.  The fingering weight portion of my stash was especially crazy, and I ended up having to put it into TWO cubes.  I need to get going on some more shawls (or maybe more socks).

Speaking of shawls, I still haven't finished my Trillian.  It's fairly close, I really just need to sit myself down to a movie marathon and finish it. I have to knit the body until I have about 10 g of yarn left, and then finish up the border; last I measured I had about 34 g left.  Power through, Jackie, power through!

In completely other news, as I mentioned in my last post, my friend Rachel has started dyeing yarn, and I went to Jimmy Beans to check it out.  Needless to say, I came away with two skeins--one in the Tahoe Skies colorway, and one in Desert Sage.  Very soft and pretty!  She's added some more colorways since I was there, so I suspect I may walk away with even more in the future.  Rachel is a fan of tonal colors (rather than variegated), so if that's up your alley, I highly recommend you check it out!

October 6, 2013

Friends and Fiber

My friend Rachel has started her own line of hand-dyed yarn, which is currently only available at Jimmy Beans Wool, and which you should all check out because its pretty: Unraveled Designs Baby Merino DK.

I love that her current colorways are inspired by various Nevada things--the Desert Sage colorway is particularly accurate.  I will make an effort to go to JBW this week to fondle it, and will report back here with an update on how soft it is (oh, darn, a trip to the yarn store!)

August 3, 2013


I'm not sure if this is a sign of listening to too many knitting podcasts, or being on Ravelry too much (or both), but last night I had a dream about a shawlette, and I can't get it out of head.

I'm not sure if it's something I saw somewhere (back to Ravelry!), or something my brain made up.  I drew a quickie picture, but its not quite how it was in my brain...I may have to break down and design something (scary!)

July 22, 2013

Holy Grail Projects

I hope I'm not the only knitter who sometimes sees a project that both completely amazes and intimidates me all at once.  A project that, were I to complete it, would make me feel like I'd reached the height of my knitting abilities.  It might even be a project that's not particularly difficult, that I could very realistically complete, were it not for my own fears, lack of time, or even motivation.  I call these projects, "Holy Grail" projects.

There are several of these in my queue and favorites on Ravelry.  The top of these (the one I'd most like to complete), is the Celestarium shawl, by Audry Nicklin.  The nerd in me cannot help but adore this.  It's been well talked about on various podcasts, but in case you haven't heard of it, the Celestarium is, " accurate view of the night sky from the North Pole in the form of a pi shawl."  I cannot fully express how much I adore this.  However, there are several reasons this is on my Holy Grail project list, and I'm afraid to knit it.  First, there are beads (to represent stars) and I haven't ever dealt with beads before.  They seem like they could potentially be a nuisance.  Second, this thing is huge.

Starburst Cluster Shows Celestial Fireworks
Other Holy Grail projects of mine are several patterns from the book Ancient Egypt in Lace and Color, by Anna Dalvi (shawls, of course.  I'm on a shawl kick lately).  I heard about this book on a podcast, and knew it was for me.  I'm an archaeologist here in the western United States, but that doesn't mean I don't secretly still have dreams of being an Egyptologist, gallivanting amongst the pyramids.  Right now my favorites from this book are Ra and Apep, Seth, and Memphis.  Remember last year when I wrote about how I didn't really care for lace?  Apparently my tastes have changed.  The most intimidating thing about these are mainly their complicated lace patterns, and again, their size.

Source:, a resource center for Ancient Egypt

What are your Holy Grail projects?  What about them is keeping you from knitting them?  Feel free to leave your thoughts in my comments.  I would love to add to my queue/favorites!

July 20, 2013

Throwing Caution to the Wind

I've decided to laugh in the face of gauge recommendations, and just knit my Trillian with the US3 needle I had originally started with.  I like the look of it with the 3s the best.  Hopefully it will turn out well.

I'm hoping to get some quality knitting time in this weekend so that I can "catch up"--I started two weeks after the KAL was supposed to start because of my indecisiveness.  Curse you, brain!  Other people are finishing their first projects already, and I only have a small corner of a shawl.  Must. Power. Through!

July 14, 2013

An FO and more knitting-curses

A couple weekends ago I had an action movie marathon and finished my Truckee Shawlette.

It was seriously a marathon--I watched/listened to four different action flicks and knit my brains out.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and Malabrigo remains my favorite thing ever.  It's so lovely and soft!

Poor Sam hasn't been able to finish (and I shouldn't have, but I was on a roll).  Luckily she's a better friend than I am, and is okay with my having finished because she knows I have other KALs to start.

Speaking of, the Mean Girls Yarn Club KAL started July 1st (and goes until August 31st), and I had all kinds of plans.  None of them have come to fruition yet.

I really wanted to use the colorway called "Hoar's Your Buddy?" which is based on Syndrome from the Incredibles.  My original plan was to make a knitted monster, but the more I looked at the yarn, the more I wanted it to be something else.  I decided I liked the pattern Baana, because the linen stitch would mix up the colors nicely and prevent a lot of pooling.  I started it, and even liked how it looked:

...but then I realized that despite all the blue (I love blue), I would probably never wear it because I am not a fan of orange.  So...I frogged my progress and decided to make it a monster again...except I don't have the proper needle size.  My birthday is in a couple of weeks, and I asked for an interchangeable needle set, which would include the needle I need, so the monster is on hold.

So, with a different MGYC colorway, I decided to try my hand at Trillian.  It was looking pretty good, but the pattern calls for a gauge of 21 stitches/27 ridges over 4 inches, and I'm getting 30 stitches over 4 inches.  SIGH.

I'm not really sure how far up in needle size I should go (and how much it matters, since its a scarf/shawl).  I did pull back and try on a US 8 for giggles, and that's WAY too loose for my liking.  I actually liked how it was knitting up on the needles I was originally using, but I'm worried about the gauge, especially because I have less yardage than called for (which others have done, just making a smaller kerchief).  I WILL NEVER WIN.

ETA:  I just realized that the gauge thing may be less of an issue than I thought, because its not blocked.  Crisis averted?

June 27, 2013


I managed to jinx myself in one of my last posts by stating that I was managing to stay caught up with my mini-KAL. I fell behind last week and didn't finish Segment 2 as I was supposed to by last Sunday, so I stalled poor Sam.  She told me she'd wait for me, even though I insisted she continue.  I have a couple of "waiting around forever" activities the next couple of days, and I know I can catch up.  Stinks to be nearly a week behind, though.

In other KAL news, the Mean Girls Yarn Club (to which I currently belong) is having a KAL that starts July and ends in August that seems like something I can manage.  We can use any pattern we want, we just have to use yarn that came from the club.  We can also do more than one project if we're feeling spiffy.  I plan on making another monster, and if I manage to get that done in decent time, I might go ahead and try to make something else (to be determined).  I'll have to start scrounging through my queue and favorites to see what could work with DK and fingering weights.  I know the fingering section of my favorites is a little...full, so there's potential there.

June 20, 2013

Color Choices

When I cruise through patterns and projects on Ravelry, I am often amazed by the colors people have chosen for their projects.  I wish I knew the secret codes of how they come up with their color combinations.

For example, one of my favorite projects EVER, is this pair of mittens by Ravelry user helloyarn (I'm pretty sure I've posted about these before, back on the Fiber Freaks blog).  Seriously.  I would never have thought to use a bright turquoise and a purple together, but it looks AMAZING.

There are several Truckee Shawlettes I adore, but one of my favorites is this one by Ravelry user Honeybee52; the contrasting colors are excellent!

And then, there's the Color Affection projects, of which I have many favorites (like this one, this one, and this one).

I understand that a lot of this (magical) ability is an understanding of color theory.  So many of my crafty passions require the use/knowledge/understanding of color theory (cake decorating, knitting, make-up), that you would think I would get it, but apparently not.  I am still constantly befuddled.

Awesome color theory poster by Nathan Bilbao.
I've read articles and watched YouTube videos all about color theory, but its still not clicking.  If anyone has any tips, I would love the help!  I'd like to (re-)try fair isle knitting again someday, and having a better grasp of color choices would definitely help.  Plus, now that I'm interested in dyeing, color mixing really does need to creep into my brain, or I might end up with some not-so-pretty results.

June 18, 2013

Brief Knit-Along Ponderings

Sam and I are both halfway through Segment 2 of the Truckee Shawlette, so this week will be devoted to finishing the remaining four repeats of that section.  Progress is steady, which is always nice.

I'm glad we're doing our own little mini-KAL, because I've always wanted to participate in one.  I haven't before because I have always worried that my tendency to be a slacker would put me too far behind and I wouldn't finish, etc. etc.  However, having deadlines/goals is actually helping my productivity--who knew? (hee!) 

I do wonder if part of my motivation is because if I don't stay caught up with Sam, she'll wait for me before she continues, and I would feel bad for slowing down her groove.  This would of course not happen in an actual KAL (the waiting); but I guess the only way for me to see if I could do a big KAL would be to just try it!

June 14, 2013

Adventures in Dyeing: Take 1

Last weekend proved to be very productive, knitting-wise.  I'm through the gusset and heel of my first Raphaelite Sock, and I caught up with Sam for our Truckee Shawlette KAL.  I also managed to fit in my first dyeing attempt.

I've had a cake of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in the colorway Springer sitting around for a millenia.  I had originally purchased (and wound) it with the idea of making some kind of scarf or hat for a friend's daughter.  At the time, she was too young for a scarf, and then the yarn was forgotten, and then it so happened that those folks became people I won't knit for.  So...I had a ball of pastel yarn I would never use.

After my friend Rachel posted pics of her Kool-Aid dyeing attempts, and I read a little about the process and discovered you could also use food coloring (which I have a ton of), I knew the time had come for me to try dyeing things myself.  At first I considered getting bare/white yarn from somewhere, but after reading through threads on the What A Kool Way to Dye group on Ravelry, I realized that I could dye OVER yarn that was already colored.  Light bulb moment--my first dyeing attempt could be FREE--I could just practice on yarns I already had in my stash that I didn't like the colors of. Yay!

As previously mentioned, I had Springer in a cake already, so my first job was to put it back into a hank.

Super high-tech on the legs of a chair.

Then I whipped up a dye bath.  Since I was over-dyeing the whole thing, I did the immersion method of putting water in a pot and mixing the dye/food coloring into that.  I wanted a pinky-purple, since Springer had some pink/purple tones already (plus we all know I love purple).  I used Americolors Electric Purple and Violet gels; since they're not drippy, but globby, I mixed them with a small amount of warm water in a glass to be sure all the color got mixed in before putting it in the dye bath.

Just hit the dye bath and already it looks better.

Then I cooked my yarn!  I let it simmer until the dye bath started to clear, then turned off the heat and let it sit.

Clear dye bath!  Yay!

After it got cool to touch, I rinsed it out in a colander and let it hang to dry.  At first I was worried it was too bright, but now I rather like it.

As you can see, I missed some spots, and some of the original color is still present. Happily, I think this will actually make it knit up in an interesting way...we shall see! All in all, I'm pleased with my dyeing experience. I didn't realize how much of the food coloring I'd actually use, though. I may buy some McCormick's to use rather than my fancy Americolors. Or just try Kool-Aid next time!

June 12, 2013

Podcasty update

I've been listening to a lot of knitting podcasts again, mainly because they help keep me motivated.  I do most of my listening at work because I'm currently alone in the laboratory, plugging away on sorting and boxing up artifacts (whee!).  It's nice and peaceful (for a change), but sometimes even I get sick of the silence. 

However, I am getting mildly frustrated because I've noticed that the podcasts that do reviews all tend to do the same review at around the same time.  I can only hear so many reviews about, for example (because its the latest case), Handmade in the U.K. by Tin Can Knits before it makes me want to throw something. (That said, there are some super cute patterns in that e-book.  I love the Loch mittens, especially.)

Anyway, I previously listed several podcasts that I'd been listening to and enjoying, and I still listen to all of them, though I've taken to listening to only selected episodes of Talkin' Toons and Nerdist.  I've added several (both knitting and non-knitting) to my lineup; if you're interested in what in the world those might be, take a peek below!

Have a podcast to recommend?  Just leave me a comment--I'm always interested in new ones!

June 9, 2013

Hurray for Progress!

So far, all is on schedule for the mini-KAL.  Sam and I both finished Segment 1 of the Truckee Shawlette, and will be moving on to Segment 2 this upcoming week, though we still aren't quite sure how to break that segment up.  Our original plan was to do 4 of the 8 repeats, but then we realized that not only are we going to be increasing stitch counts, but there are four rows for each color instead of just two.  So...we're sort of playing that one by ear.

Truckee Shawlette in progress.  Yay, stripes!
In other news, I've also been plugging away on my Raphaelite socks--shocking, I know.  I'm currently working through the gusset increases of sock #1 (the sock is toe-up).  My sock progress will likely slow down as the Truckee Shawlette gets bigger.

Most of a sock!  I might get these done by November.

June 8, 2013

Things are well in my (organizational) universe again.

Last weekend, I cleaned my knitting space.  I just couldn't take it anymore.

I can now breathe easily again.

I still haven't figured out what to do with my circulars.  I liked the "pencil pouches in a 3-ring binder" idea (I'm a fan of binders, if you couldn't tell from the picture above), but the hunt for pencil pouches at stores just after schools have gone on summer vacation was (unsurprisingly) unsuccessful.  However, it appears Amazon sells them pretty cheaply (i.e. this pack of 24  for $32).  I'm debating on whether I should wait until August for Back to School sales, or buy them now and satisfy my I-need-it-now inner child/OCD.

Still not as pretty as I would like.
For now, the circulars are living in their original small ziplocks, in some semblance of order.

Riffling through my needle bin also made me realize that I have a bunch of bamboo needles that will likely need a new home.  Now that I'm a full-on metal needle lover, I doubt I'll use them much in the future.

Besides organizing the bin mess, I also organized my FO binder.  It's basically Ravelry in written/scrapbook form, in case the apocalypse happens and the internet dies*.  I used the knitting journal pages from Kathryn Ivy to record project info, then stuffed my pattern/notes/yarn band behind it.  I like it a lot, though already I know I'm going to have to get a thicker binder to expand.  The project pages aren't as detailed as my Ravelry, but I tried to include all the most important information (again, in case of catastrophe).

The only thing I'm dissatisfied with (besides the circulars), are what the blazes to do with my yarn scraps.  I know a lot of people are using their sock yarn to knit hexipuffs for the BeekeepersQuilt, but I have no interest.  Does anyone know of a creative storage idea for them?

My current organizational scheme involves large ziplocks.  Classy.

Some may have enough yardage left to actually make another project...I should weigh them all and figure out what I actually have left.  Guess I know what my next organizational project is!

*Because of course I'll care about my FOs when the world ends.

June 3, 2013

Just a little KAL

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Sam and I wandered into our LYS (Jimmy Beans Wool), and saw a simple, but beautiful, shawl/scarf hanging up on display.  We inquired as to the pattern (it was the Truckee Shawlette) and what yarn was used (Malabrigo Lace/Silkpaca), and then discovered that it was actually knit by our friend Rachel!  Figures--she makes all the pretty things.

At any rate, both of us have been thinking about that project for WEEKS, and finally last week after we'd had lunch at a restaurant very close to the shop I suggested we stop by.  It did not take much convincing, and within 30 minutes both Sam and I had yarn and a plan to have our own little KAL.

As previously mentioned, the pattern is the Truckee Shawlette, which is a free pattern by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich (via JBW).  Sam will be using Malabrigo Silkpaca in Vaa and Arco Iris; I'll be using Malabrigo Lace Superwash in Polar Moon and Lavanda.

My purples--Polar Moon (L) and Lavanda (R)

We're starting today, so anyone that wants to join us (last minute, sorry) is welcome!  We don't have a full plan of attack quite yet; we're sort of playing it by ear (or feel?)  This week our goal is to work through the set up and Pattern Segment #1.

May 27, 2013

In which my needle bin has exploded.

I'm pretty organized.  I like having things neatly arranged.  So how did my "needles and notions" cube end up looking like this?

Yikes.  Those bags and the bin of KnitPicks Palette samples were also in there.

I'm not really sure how this happened.  I think my needle-buying went out of control somewhere along the line, or (more likely) I just started stuffing things into there without really looking, and now its all kinds of chaos.

I've been pondering how to go about needle organization for the DPNs and circulars currently crammed into that cube (my straights live in a vase on top of the cube containment unit).  I considered one of those nifty circular needle hanging holders, but I just know the cats would be messing with that non-stop and chewing on my cables.  I'm considering the binder and zip pencil pouch approach.  Mainly I just want my cords to be less curled up, and for things to be organized.

Even the top is messy!  For the record, it used to look like this.

I have some work to do.

May 22, 2013

Needle Needs

For a long time now, I've wanted to buy an interchangeable needle set.  I'm glad I've waited a bit, though, because it has taken awhile to discover my true needle needs.  When I first started knitting, I really liked wood and bamboo needles because they were "stickier" and I was paranoid about dropping stitches (and had a tendency to do so pretty often).  Nowadays, I'm less paranoid because I can fix dropped stitches easily, and it tends to happen less often.  Plus, I also knit fairly tightly, so now I appreciate slick metal needles to move things along with more ease.

Sounds pretty straight-forward, right?  There are a bunch of metal interchangeable needle sets to choose from, all with different specifications.  Luckily, I have discovered that I have other requirements for my needles, which will help narrow things down:
  1. The needles need to be fairly pointy, but not TOO pointy.
    •  I've been using a Kollage square needle lately, and am finding it TOO pointy.  Addi Lace-type pointy is good.
  2. The cable needs to be slick, flexible, and can't have too much memory.
    • The Kollage needle is nice and flexible, but not slick enough--my stitches get stuck on it during magic loop.  The Addi cable is slick, but no matter how many times I've done the hot-water-pull-straight trick, it always curls back up on itself and drives me insane.   KnitPicks' cable seems to be more in line of what I like.
  3. I would like a variety of sizes (at least down to a size 2 since I use that often, but also up to at least a size 8 or 9).
I've been keeping a spreadsheet of different sets to compare, and so far the top two contenders are the HiyaHiya Sharps, and the ChiaoGoo Twist.

HiyaHiya Sharps
ChiaoGoo Twist

I have pros and con's about each (some sillier than others):

Pros:  Pretty case (it comes in other flavors besides the ones in the pic above); the small set of needles has sizes US 2 through 8; the 4" set can make 16" needles for hats; these get rave reviews all over Ravelry.
Cons: Have to buy each set (small/large) separately [but could be cheaper if I find I really only use the smaller sizes and don't need the larger set]; I have no idea what the cables are like, though reports say its pretty flexible.

Pros: Nice case with lots of accessories; can purchase a complete set, or just the small/large separately; can buy different cables from the other set (nylon) if red cables are too stiff.
Cons: The red cable might be too stiff for magic loop (I have a fixed circular version to try); if I want to make 16" needles, I would need to buy smaller tips and cables separately.

When it comes down to it, cost might be the biggest thing for me.  For a more fair comparison, the small set of the HiyaHiya costs around $80 (US) and the ChiaoGoo $90 (but you get more accessories).  If I wanted to buy smaller tips/cables to do hats, the HiyaHiya cables run about $6.50, and the needle tips are $10.50; the ChiaoGoo cables are $4.50, and the tips range from $8 to $12.

That actually didn't help me at all, because if I do the math (the small set + US9 tips and US10tips + 2 cables) there's only a $2 difference.  I still can't decide. AHHHHHHHHHH!

May 19, 2013

Et fin

Despite fate's numerous attempts to thwart me, I persevered and finished my monster just in time for my friend's baby shower.  I am pleased to report that he was much admired.

This is Baldwin the Bathroom Monster from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters by Rebecca Danger.   I used Knit Picks Stroll in the colorway Cartoons, and a size 2 needle for a sort of "mini" monster--he was about 5 inches tall.  I "embroidered" his face since he was for a baby--that was quite the adventure.  It took me hours to get  his eyes somewhat even, and to get his "teeth" big enough that it didn't look like a weird mustache.  It has been many years since I embroidered anything, but the crookedness adds a sort of charm.

For future monsters, one thing I need to practice is my whip stitch for limb attachment; mine looked messy.  I also tried to use whip stitch to close up his bottom, but it looked TERRIBLE, so I ended up doing an invisible seam. It's not perfect, but its way better than the horrid whip stitch was!* Looking at it now, I don't think I did it quite right--oh well!

At any rate, I have wanted an excuse to knit one of these guys since I first saw the book, and am glad I finally got the chance.  I'm also super excited to have finally finished a knitted toy--something I've wanted to do since I stumbled upon Little Cotton Rabbits blog several years ago.  More of these guys might have to start popping up in the hands of people I know very soon.

*I have now realized I was doing the whip stitch incorrectly, so that was probably part of my problem.  A seamstress I am not.

May 15, 2013

Of Monsters and Babies

It will come as no surprise that in the nearly four months since I last posted, I have hardly knit on anything.  I tend to go through my various creative activities in cycles, which is bad for blogging; some months I'm really into cake decorating or baking, some months into nail polish and makeup, and some months really into knitting.  It didn't help that I wasn't feeling particularly inspired by any of my in-progress projects. 

Then last week, it was like the knitting gods decided I need to get my act together.  I started listening to my backlog of knitting podcasts and immediately wanted to buy all the yarn and needles.  A fellow blogger and friend posted Instagram pictures of her Kool-Aid dyed yarn, and I immediately wanted to run to the grocery store for Kool-Aid, and order bare yarn from KnitPicks.  I had a little over a week until a friend's baby shower, and theorized that I could finish a knitted monster toy in time (because I'm crazy).

I decided to use a yarn I've had in my stash FOREVER, because its bright and kid-colored.  This is KnitPicks Stroll in the colorway Cartoons.

I hate it.  I think it looks happy and bright in its little yarn-cake, but knit up I think it looks like a muddy mess.  My friend Sam insists it will still be cute for a baby boy.

My current plan is to finish the monster (who will hopefully be ugly-cute), but then overdye the rest of the skein into something less barf-worthy.  It will give me a chance to practice (for freebies!) this whole food coloring/Kool Aid dyeing thing, as I have a ton of gel colors from my aforementioned cake/cookie decorating adventures.  I like when my hobbies magically intersect.

January 28, 2013

Curse of Dumbness?

...I don't know what's going on with me, you guys.  I was working on my mitten last night and things were going well, but then I noticed I had a weirdly loosey-goosey stitch.  This led to a series of problems I will not list here, but which ended in the frogging of my mitten (grumbleSOBgrumble).

I don't know if its my state of mind (not enough concentration?) or just some weird knitting curse (those exist, right?) but this is super frustrating!  I'm trying to actually work on things only to get thwarted at every turn (by my own mistakes)!

On the plus side, the needle I was using for my mitten was kind of annoying me (it wasn't really as long as I would've liked for magic loop), so maybe I can use this as an excuse to buy one >:)

January 25, 2013

Knitting would be easier if I wasn't so dumb.

I've been making an attempt to start my Raphaelite Socks for several days now.  First I thought the beginning of my toe looked weird, so I pulled it out.  Then I wasn't sure I was really doing the increases right, so I pulled it out, looked it up and started again. 

Things were going well until yesterday (still working on the toe, mind you), when I counted my stitches and realized one of my needles was missing one.  I assumed I'd accidentally forgotten to increase on one end of the previous round.  Alas, I had just finished a knit round, so I had to tink back that entire round and half the next to get to the trouble spot...but both my increases were there.  Which meant I either dropped a stitch (which I couldn't see), or I forgot an increase SOMEWHERE ELSE.  So I pulled the entire thing out again, because I didn't want to keep un-knitting for forever.  UGH.

I don't know how its possible I have managed to muck up this project four times and I'm only ON THE TOE OF A SOCK.  !!

January 21, 2013

An attempt to break away from monogamy.

You would think that having had two weeks of vacation during the holidays would have prompted knitting, or maybe even a finished project, right?  Alas, in my case you would be wrong.  I spent the majority of my vacation sitting on my bum playing video games (nerd alert).

Now that I'm back at work and doing a task that allows me to listen to podcasts, I've been making myself listen to the knitting ones because I know that they'll inspire me.  Indeed, it seems to be working because I've been staring at patterns on Ravelry again, and even played with Judy's Magic Cast-on last night (in preparation for starting a pair of socks.)

I'm going to try something new this year.  Typically, I only knit one thing at a time (though, technically I've had the Chroma Striped Scarf lurking in the background for awhile), but this usually results in things languishing forever when I'm not in the mood to work on them (all the pairs of socks I've ever knit, my mittens....).  While listening to an episode of the Knitmore Girls podcast, Gigi mentioned that she liked having a few things going on at once so that she had knitting for every situation--i.e. something easy for when you're maybe waiting in the doctor's office.  I thought it was a great idea, so I'm making an effort to start some more projects.  I plan on continuing to work on my Bella Mittens, I'm going to start my Raphaelite Socks (FINALLY), and I want to break down and finally do a knitted toy (which I've been wanting to try forever)--likely a knitted monster

I'm also hoping this will actually give me enough to blog about, instead of the usual posts where I talk about NOT knitting, haha!