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Are you there, Internet? It’s me, Elisabeth…

So…it’s been a long time around here.  An embarrassingly long time, in fact.  I rather suddenly (but not entirely unexpectedly) started a new side project that’s been taking all of my time and energy – there was even a period of about three months that I literally did not knit a single stitch, despite never being more than about 10 feet from knitting at any given moment.  It was just too much work to knit, after everything else that I was already doing.

What is this massive side project, you ask?  (Maybe you don’t – just play along.)  Well…I’m not ready to share it with the world yet, so you’ll have to hold on to your curiosity a bit longer.  For now, maybe you’ll be satisfied with some pictures of knitting I did before this new project started?

How about some pictures of the finished Portugese Hourglass socks sitting in the as-yet-unblooming tulips?

And another one, for good measure.

For those of you who remember my last post about these, guess how much yarn I had left over when all was said and done?

That’s about a foot and a half, right there.  I don’t know what I did to make the Knitting Fates like me, but I hope this was a repayment for past punishments instead of a loan against future crappiness.

Socks, Socks, Nothing But Socks

So…hi everyone. Sorry for the long lag in posting that just happened there – a lot of stuff has been happening over here in the Knerd household, and somehow posting just fell off the wayside. Unfortunately, so did my camera, apparently, so I’m not going to be able to show you what I’ve done since we last spoke.

Not only did I finish the Portuguese Hourglass socks, but I started and finished another pair of Pomatomus‘s too (I think that brings me up to 4 sets or something).  Also, I realized I finished a pair of socks a couple months ago in a pattern I’m writing called Berry Parfait, and I don’t think I ever showed the finished ones to you at all.

Never fear, though – soon I will unearth the camera and I’ll be able to take lovely pictures of all of these socks hanging out in the garden, amidst the crocuses and chionodoxa and anything else that decides to bloom in the next week or so.  Actually, right now it’s really just the crocuses going to town, but I have high hopes for the rest of the garden.

As for the next knitting project…well, I’m still trying to figure that out.  The Blanket Thief has been not-so-subtly hinting that maybe I should finish the cARGHdigan that I promised him for Christmas in 2009.  I’m close too – just some sleeve caps and a button band/neckband and I’m done.

Of course, he still has to pick out the buttons, so sometimes I tell him it’s his fault it’s not finished yet.  I’m tricky like that.

I’m also looking for another portable project that uses sock yarn (since I have so much of it), but I’m not convinced at this point that I want to do another pair of socks.  I’ve very nearly reached the point that I have enough hand knit socks to last me through an entire wash cycle + spares, and since at this point my sock drawers are plural I’m thinking maybe I should figure out another project that uses sock yarn without actually being socks.  Any ideas?

Yarn > Embarassment

Usually when I catch Monkey Kitty doing something hilarious, he’s too shy to keep at it while I turn on the video camera on my phone and start recording.  For example, we put a sheet with a bunch of little Tinkerbells on one of the couches to try to keep cat hair off of the couch itself, and Monkey Kitty loves to pounce on the Tinkerbells – unless the camera is rolling, in which case he just looks at you inquiringly and meows softly.  It’s almost like he’s saying, “Um, mom?  This is kind of a personal thing I have to do, I’d rather there not be a record of it later.”

But when there’s yarn involved?  Apparently that’s more important than a little dignity.

Today, we brought home a bag of yarn.  I thought the Blanket Thief had put it safely away in the office, while he thought that I had protected it.  Ten minutes after we got home, Monkey Kitty started meowing by the entry table, and then I heard a soft “thump”.

I went upstairs to find…well, it’s really just better if I show you.

And this is why I can’t leave yarn out unattended for even five minutes

Oh Crap

I have small feet, so generally speaking a ball of sock yarn is more than enough for me to make a pair of socks with.  In fact, I’ve never once run out of yarn while making socks.  I’ve never even come close – I’ve sometimes had so much yarn left over that I could make a pair of gloves with it (well, almost – I ran out with a finger and a half to finish, so I don’t know if that really counts, actually).

But I think the day has finally come – I’m going to run out of yarn on the Portuguese Hourglass socks.

I’m not sure exactly how this happened.  I’ve done this pattern before, twice, and I had plenty of yarn left over.  It doesn’t have significantly more stitches, nor is it significantly longer than a normal pair of socks.  Assuming that all sock yarn is roughly the same yardage, there shouldn’t be a problem…

… er…um… just a moment…

… I thought that maybe this was just a significantly smaller ball of yarn, but that’s not it either.  I just checked and this is the standard 100g/420m ball of yarn, more than enough to make two of any other sock pattern.

Somehow, inexplicably, I’ve either lost some yarn or am using a ridiculous amount more than I need.  I’m not going to be able to match the stripes in the toe of the second sock for sure, and it’s possible I might not be able to finish at all.  I’ve got the red yarn I wound off to get to the first yellow stripe on the first sock, and the red and green yarn I wound off to get to the same place on the second, as well as one more repeat of green-red-yellow on the ball.  I’m still not sure if that will be enough either, but it’s at least in the realm of possibilty, and that’s enough to make me keep going.

I’m pretty sure the knitting fates will bite me on the butt and make me run out of yarn with about 3 rows to go, but at this point?  I’m pretty willing to have just about any color on the toe, so long as it’s done.

Monkey Kitty Won’t be Stopped

I really thought I was getting much better about not leaving yarn out for Monkey Kitty to find.  There haven’t been any major incidents in quite a while, to the point that I almost suspected that he might even have gotten over his love of yarn destruction.

Just goes to show that you can never be too vigilant.  I apparently let down my guard for one night, and what happened?

Now, I say I “apparently” let down my guard because I would have sworn that I had remembered to put the yarn and notions bag on the high shelf, but obviously Monkey Kitty got to it somehow.  The only alternative to me leaving it out would be that he’s figured out how to get stuff off of the 6″ tall bookshelf, and that doesn’t bear contemplating.

When I found the yarn, I might have lost my mind a little bit.  I picked up the whole mass and chased Monkey Kitty around the room, shaking it at him and yelling, “Yarn is scary!  You should hate yarn!  Run away, run from the yarn!”  The whole process probably made the yarn even harder to untangle, although after a couple hours I managed to take the pile of knots and turn it back into a ball of yarn.

For the record, while it did scare him, I don’t think he understood what he was supposed to be scared about.  I got the impression he just thought I was crazy, so he left me alone for a few hours before forgetting what had happened and curling up on my lap.

Yeah, I don’t think he picked up on that “yarn is scary” message at all…

A Portugese Hourglass for the New Year

I wish sometimes that I lived in Germany.  Not, mind you, that I know much German, but I think I could pick it up pretty quickly, and I know that enough people in Germany speak English that I could definitely get by.  Germany is where the sock yarn comes from, and is the only place I know of where you can get Soccer (aka Football) team inspired colorways in your sock yarn.

I bought this in Germany when I was touring Europe after college, and lucked out because the Soccer Team yarn was apparently last year’s style and was all on clearance – I scored this one for Portugal as well as some yarn for Germany, Denmark, and Brazil, and all on a former college kid’s budget (or lack thereof).

The ball looks a little rough, since it’s been marinating in my stash for almost five years and has already been through one failed attempt to become socks.  This time around, I’m going with something that I’m pretty sure will look awesome with just about anything:

A slightly modified version of Hourglass.  Basically, I changed the cuff to k1tbl p1 rib, added another repeat around to make them fit my feet, change the heel to my standard pseudo auto-heel, modified how the pattern edges work on the instep, and changed the toe to my standard smooth-decreases-around one.  But other than that I followed the pattern as written – oh, except that I moved the flower medallions inside the arches up a row so that they were more centered between the curves, rather than what was obviously written to be knitted flat with the YOs happening on the same row as the moving stitches.

Okay, so maybe these are more inspired by Hourglass instead of actual implementations of Hourglass.  Still, I love this pattern.  It’s saved me before from a failed attempt at sock creation, and as I’ve said before it knits up super quick.  I’m not sure why when it’s got plenty of fiddly one stitch cables and most of the stitches are purls, but there you have it.  Fast, fun, works with all yarn patterns, comfortable to wear, and interesting to look at.  You couldn’t dream up a better pattern if you tried.

Then again, I’ve only tried it with a tweedy solid, a marl, and now stripes.  It might not work on insane yarn…but even if it didn’t, I would still love it for all the other places it can be used.  And, really, who can blame a pattern for not looking good when used with a yarn that looks like clowns conspired to make us all sick?

They’re Stretchy

While I was on my honeymoon several months ago, I decided to start knitting a pair of socks.  I had grand plans for the pattern, but in the interim took a bit of a break and then realized that I couldn’t remember what that plan was.   I also started feeling a bit of animosity toward the pattern, but since I am delusional and I am not a quitter, I kept going.

Anytime someone would see me knitting those socks, they’d ask who they were for, “Like, a kid or something?”  And I’d laugh, and say they were for me, and demonstrate that they were actually quite stretchy.

Unfortunately, they’re not stretchy enough.  They barely (and only with a lot of swearing and some lost skin) fit over my heels.  Once they’re on, they fit like a dream, of course, but if it takes me five minutes to put on my socks in the morning I’m not going to be a happy camper.

Of course, I blame the yarn.  This was the last set of Deborah Norville yarn I had in the stash, and I haven’t had a single positive experience with that stuff.  With any other yarn, 72 stitches would have been enough to fit around my heel (I’ve got some socks with 68 stitches in them and they fit just fine), but with this yarn…no.  It’s just not working out.

I don’t think I’m the only one that feels that way either – Monkey Kitty did the usual thing and came to investigate the knitting as soon as it hit the floor…

…and not 10 seconds later, he was walking away again – apparently, this yarn isn’t even good enough to chew on.

So now, I just have to find someone who has smaller heels than I do, that I don’t really like too much, but who I like enough to give them hand knit socks.  Thoughts?

The Last Thing

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but despite having many more seams than the first Wedding Blanket, Wedding Blanket II is all seamed up.  I can’t show you the whole thing, as that woudl give away the surprise, but I can show you what it looks like right this moment:

What is that tangled mass, you ask?  Well, that’s what happens when you take a blanket that’s just short of about 5′ square and pick up stitches along the entire outside edge.

Yes, that’s right.  In a stroke of crazy genius (or, even, crazy-genius), I decided that there would be no more seaming on this blanket, and promptly (“promptly” here defined as “over the course of several hours”) picked up over a thousand stitches around the edge.  Actually, the real count is closer to 1.5K, but…well, y’all don’t like hearing about the exact numbers when I come up with them.

So, now, it’s just a matter of knitting and purling a few rounds in the two colors until I like how it looks, binding off (ooh, don’t want to think about that one…), and weaving in a few ends.  Really, I’m quite nearly done.

I’m really glad it’s very cold here – while knitting on this, there’s no way to hold it except everything on your lap.  That’s pretty awesome right now with the frost outside, but if this were the middle of summer…well, let’s just say Erica would be waiting a little longer for this one.  Let’s just hope that I do manage to finish this one before the weather gets cold again, though, shall we?

100 Things About Me

This, Dear Readers, just happens to be my 100th post, and I thought it would be fun to give you a list of 100 things about me that you may not have known before.

  1. I’m a Gemini
  2. I don’t believe in astrology, unless it says good things about me
  3. I am amazing at procrastination
  4. Even though I always hate the rush and stress of doing something right up against the deadline I never seem to learn to plan ahead in any meaningful way
  5. I love doing home improvement
  6. Home improvement always takes at least 3 times longer and costs twice as much as I thought it would
  7. I still believe that I could reasonably knit a sweater in a weekend given enough downtime
  8. I love cooking, especially for large groups of people
  9. I prefer doing things by hand rather than using a machine in the kitchen
  10. My dream life involves a house with a yard, several fruit trees, and plenty of time to garden, cook, and knit – not necessarily in that order
  11. I’m going to start canning things soon
  12. I’ve vowed not to own sheep unless there is a massive spike in the price of wool
  13. Ditto for alpacas and any other fiber animal
  14. I have not ruled out fiber producing plants however
  15. I also dream of having a garden of dye plants
  16. I’m worse at sticking to my yarn diet when there are people with me on my trip to the store (even if they’re not enabling me)
  17. I think the Kinect is a viable gym membership replacement
  18. Based on how winded I get after playing a few rounds I’m not in great shape
  19. I love to ski
  20. When I started 20 years ago I hated skiing and tried to quit for a few years
  21. I had the same response to knitting when I first started at 5
  22. When I picked up knitting again when I was 12, I couldn’t remember how to cast on so I just tied a slip knot for each stitch
  23. I also didn’t cast on enough stitches or knit long enough before decreasing so that project (which was supposed to be a hat) became a hot pink mottled yarmulke
  24. I still do not know anyone who wants a hot pink mottled yarmulke
  25. I used to know every line in Romeo and Juliet
  26. That was because I was in love with Leonardo di Caprio and I watched the Baz Luhrmann movie more than was strictly healthy
  27. I also had a period where I watched She’s All That every day
  28. I hate it when movies or books have sad endings and often rewrite them for myself
  29. When I watch Moulin Rouge I stop the movie when the theater curtain goes down on their performance and tell myself that she gets better and they both live long and happy lives together
  30. I’m totally fine with twisting someone else’s artistic vision with my own interpretation if it makes me happier
  31. When I graduated high school, I was convinced that I was going to be a famous actress, to the point that I moved to LA for a year
  32. While in LA, I didn’t actually do much to get “noticed”, although I did get “scouted” once
  33. By the time I left LA to come home to the Seattle area, I had decided that I was going to be a chemist instead
  34. A random elective class at the end of my third year of college convinced me to double major in computer science as well
  35. It only took me an extra year to graduate with the two degrees, one in CS and one in American Cancer Society certified chemistry
  36. I can’t talk about what a chemist can do with 3 oz of liquid, especially while I’m waiting in line to go through security at the airport
  37. I went to college at the University of Washington, but I’ve never attended a Husky game
  38. In high school, I did work concessions at a couple Husky games to raise money for the Speech and Debate team
  39. You would not believe how incredibly gross your hands smell after working concessions at a football game for a few hours.  Don’t even get me started on cleaning out the hotdog cooker.
  40. In my life, I’ve been vegetarian for three separate periods of varying lengths.  The last period was my senior year of high school, and only ended when I ran out of money to pay for college and the Korean restaurant I worked at gave me a bowl of something to eat.  I didn’t ask questions about what was in it, and I don’t think they would have understood me if I’d tried anyway.
  41. I still feel morally superior if I choose not to eat meat at a particular meal
  42. This is complicated by the fact that I think steak, bacon, and corned beef are the best things ever
  43. My favorite color is green (which you probably did know), and I’ve memorized the hex code for my particular shade: #7dd01a
  44. I’ve never actually knit a pattern without changing something
  45. Someday I want to write knitting patterns
  46. I worry that people will change them
  47. I nicknamed the kitties Monkey Kitty and Bear Kitty because I think they resemble those animals.  At some angles I also sometimes think that Bear Kitty looks like a snake or a dinosaur.  It rarely occurs to me that they’re just cats.
  48. I drink a lot of water in the average day – usually around 4-5 liters
  49. I don’t like drinking soda at all – the bubbles hurt
  50. If I have to drink a soda, I’ll try to “flatten” it first – this habit made a few of my college professors very nervous when I did it in a lecture with a bottle of Pepsi
  51. I consider caffeine to be a medicinal drug, at least when I’m using it.  Nothing else is as effective at getting rid of my headaches.
  52. If I have caffeine without having a headache, I act like I’ve just had crack
  53. I swear a lot and I’m somewhat vulgar when I’m bored
  54. When I was a kid, I was the person my friends’ parents said they should try to emulate
  55. I thought that was a good sign that parents had no idea what was really going on
  56. I once tried to spin cat hair (note: not a great idea, although I still think it would totally work actually)
  57. At one point in college I had a bad bout of insomnia and ended up unable to sleep for three nights
  58. By the end of the fourth day with no sleep, I started imagining that there was something scritching on the inside of my backpack.  The only coherent thought I could string together about it was, “That can’t possibly be real, but I’m not going to check because that’s how horror movies start.”
  59. That was the point that I decided I was no longer capable of taking care of myself and went to a friend’s house to have them babysit me
  60. They waited until I fell asleep watching a movie and then tricked me into thinking I’d slept past the departure time for my flight in the morning.  I was halfway out the door before they stopped laughing enough to stop me from running into the street.
  61. I like practical jokes, but I’m not very good at playing them
  62. I hate getting up in the morning, but I do my best work before 10AM
  63. In college I would wake up at 3AM to write my papers, because I couldn’t focus at any other time
  64. When I was very little, I used to wake up before anyone else and fill the morning hours where I was alone with “experiments”
  65. Those “experiments” directly led to me stapling my own finger and cutting the webbing between my fingers with a pair of safety scissors, within a couple weeks of each other, on purpose, to “see if it would do it”
  66. I’m willing to sacrifice a lot in the pursuit of science
  67. Sometimes I find myself over-thinking things in dangerous ways, like when I think that I’ll pour the noodle water through a strainer back into the same pot because it’s exactly the right size to hold the water after the noodles are in the strainer and that way I don’t need to get another pot dirty.  There’s really only one problem with that plan, though…
  68. I also dabble with the idea that someday I’ll be a writer of books of fiction.  This is somewhat hampered by my habit of starting a story because I’ve got an idea for a really good scene without having much of a feeling for how the plot will tie itself up.
  69. I have finished one novel-length manuscript, but it was terrible and I’m glad no one actually published it
  70. That particular book was started as a way to “fix” the ending of a series that my then-favorite author LJ Smith had written where the guy sacrifices himself in the end to save the girl (see #30), but it veered off in its own direction pretty quickly
  71. There have been three aborted attempts to re-write that book, but I never seem to get past the 30% mark before I decide it’s not good enough and start over again
  72. In my head, there are also three sequels to that book with relatively fleshed out plots (or, at least, they used to be fleshed out…now they’re a little fuzzy)
  73. I tend to do laundry every 3-4 weeks, which means I own a lot of underwear and socks (and various other clothing)
  74. Once I started doing the Blanket Thief’s laundry, it was clear that we needed to buy him more clothes, since what he had really couldn’t last more than a week and a half without running out of something
  75. Washing and folding 4 weeks worth of laundry gives me a big sense of accomplishment, like I’ve personally battled entropy and won
  76. I really love chemistry jokes, and I think Chemistry Cat is the awesomest thing ever since it’s LOLcats + using my chemistry degree.  The Blanket Thief was super impressed when I predicted the punch line to this one.
  77. If you want to get on my good side, ask me something that I can answer with chemistry
  78. I get a huge kick out of helping people and generally doing “good”, but I think altruism is a bad practice
  79. I used to be a bit of a Randroid, but have since decided that the system isn’t fair enough to just say everyone is on their own
  80. I’ve never affiliated with a particular political party
  81. I like to calculate how many stitches are in a project, but I’ve discovered that most other people don’t want me to tell them that information
  82. I always sleep on my stomach, face turned to the right, left arm under my sternum and right arm curled around me and locking the blankets in place
  83. Now that I’ve learned to lock the blankets in place, the Blanket Thief is much less likely to be successful when attempting to steal the covers.  I have, however, woken up a few times to have him tugging at them hard enough to partially roll me over.
  84. I almost never move in my sleep, although I will toss around a lot trying to get to sleep
  85. I’m not sure why I move so much trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in, when there’s only one position I ever do sleep in
  86. My thought processes aren’t great when tired.  My response to being told to go to bed late at night is usually, “No!  I’m too tired to go to bed!”
  87. It’s almost impossible for me to fall asleep when I’m reading a book, and I get sucked into books really easily.  This has caused me to see the wrong side of the sunrise on more than one occasion.
  88. I like to think that I’m a go-getter and that I need purpose in my life, but I have a sneaky suspicion that if I had #s 10, 11, 14, and 15 that I would not actually need anything else to fill my time
  89. I avoid “queue”ing programs (Ravelry, Netflix) because I’ve realized that the world can produce things I want to do faster than I can do them, and if I have a list of things I know I’ll never finish it just stresses me out
  90. I like closure and completing things
  91. The number of unfinished objects in my house and the length of time they’ve been in that state seem to be a direct contradiction to #90, but I still stand by it
  92. I believe life is easier if you recognize that there are a lot of situations where you can be right, or you can get what you want, but you can’t have both
  93. Sometimes, though, what I want is to be right, so it’s win-win for me
  94. I’ve put a moratorium on acquiring new hobbies and largely stuck to it, despite being exposed to hand quilting, tatting, and glassblowing all in the last couple months
  95. I can sing along to almost anything, even if I haven’t heard it before
  96. That makes me top pick for vocals when playing Rock Band with a bunch of my friends
  97. On the other hand, being a high soprano makes singing rock music somewhat difficult, as most of it is in an alto-tenor range
  98. Right now, I’m really looking forward to knitting myself some lacy scarves and maybe a sweater or three
  99. I still have to finish the Wedding Blanket II and the cARGHdigan before doing so, which means I don’t think I’ll be getting woolies for myself anytime soon (socks don’t count)
  100. The last person for whom I would knit a blanket just got engaged, so we’re going to be looking at Wedding Blanket III soon…

MacGyvering Saves Fiber Weekend

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently went to Fiber Weekend up at my Mother-in-Law’s house.  I don’t know where she came up with the idea, but this was apparently the second annual iteration of it, and I gotta say…

…it was awesome.

I’ve been craving some spinning time for months, since last year’s Stitch & Pitch, actually.  I apparently didn’t reveal this at the time, but when I was at the game I may have walked away from the Serial Knitters booth with this:

It’s been burning a hole in my stash since I got it, but I’ve been a good little knitter and worked on the Wedding Blankets rather than indulging.  But, Fiber Weekend!  What better time to indulge, really?  If you can’t play with fiber during Fiber Weekend, something is very, very wrong with the world indeed.

Of course, it’s been so long since I spun that I didn’t even think to check if I had all the parts to my wheel before I trucked the whole box I keep it in up to Canada, only to discover…

…that the screw to hold on the flyer was not there.  In fact, as soon as I started to put it together I thought to myself, “Wait a minute, there was something about this that I was supposed to remember next time I spun, something about being in the Office…on my desk…oh crap.

But I was not going to be deterred by so simple a piece of hardware.  After scouring my Mother-in-Law’s garage for the right screw (she didn’t have it, of course), I decided to embrace Fiber Weekend a little more completely and solved the problem in the most appropriate manner possible…

…with fiber.  I used some kitchen twine to weave through the two pieces and then around them both a bunch of times, tying at each crossing for stability.  It took a few tries, but once I had it up it lasted all weekend, which is saying something because I spun a lot that weekend.

I split the 4 oz of fiber into three roughly equal sections along the length, then split each into smaller, mostly random sections and started each bobbin at a different point in the color repeat.  The goal was to have a fully marled yarn with lots of color shifts, similar to Trekking XXL.

The plies were gorgeous, the colors perfectly suited for each other.  I had the first bobbin filled by the end of the first night (I might have stayed up late to make that happen, but it was totally worth it).

The second day saw the completion of the second bobbin, which I also might have stayed up late for, but which was also totally, completely worth it.

The third bobbin took a bit more time, so it wasn’t until I was back home on my own couch that I managed to get to the plying stage – but I was so excited to see what the yarn would actually look like that the bobbins didn’t stay like that for long, and soon:

They were totally empty.  The best part was that there was almost zero waste – two bobbins were done within a foot of each other, and the third only had enough to create a few yards of two ply yarn:

And the actual yarn?  It’s some amazing amount of marled three-ply goodness.

I haven’t wound it off to set it and figure out how many yards I have yet, but I’m already dreaming of what this is going to end up being.  I’m thinking maybe a scarf, some pattern that would use up every last drop of this gorgeousness I have created.  Any ideas?

Also, in related news, I apparently seem to have slipped on the whole keeping-yarn-away-from-Monkey-Kitty thing.  I looked away from the leftover mini-bobbin of yarn on the table for about 2 minutes, and next thing I know…

…Monkey Kitty has dragged it into the corner and is pretending to be ready to defend his kill.  Luckily, he’s actually a complete pansy, so he ran when I went after him and left the yarn behind for me to return to its high shelf safely out of reach.