Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thanks everyone for your awesome comments on Caister--it definitely boosted my spirits quite a bit. I probably shouldn't have complained so much, it really did come out beautifully. Just all those nagging details, argh! Also thanks for suggestions on how to fix the problems--I definitely will try a few things and let you know if any of them work ;)

Boy we are in the middle of some sticky-icky weather! Makes me want to stick my head in the freezer, lol!Anyone else up for a fudgesicle?

It is actually funny how cranky and whiny a lot of people up here (myself included) get when the weather hits 85 plus humidity. I know all you folks further south are slapping your knees and laughing at this! But hey, we're not used to it and it's not like anyone actually has air conditioning in these parts! I am just hiding out in here, shades down, fan blowing at me. Even poor Quincy it too lethargic to move much or cuddle (he tries but gets hot and has to move on). I'm sure we'll survive, somehow ;)

For knitting, I finally finished up the "Stinky Sox", almost a year after I started them! Good time to finish too, for the tail end of this month's Project Spectrum color of red.Just an easy-peasy, toe-up stockinette sock in Cascade Fixation. I stopped working on them last year after the Sox went into a nasty late-season tumble. I secretly feared that the socks were a bad-luck charm (strange how non-superstitious me gets all silly when the Sox are involved). They also had a few bad games while I was finishing them, but they've been on the rebound since, so maybe it was just the act of knitting the socks that was a problem, not the socks themselves?

Pattern Notes:
"Stinky Sox" made using Wendy's Toe-up Sock Pattern
Knit in Cascade Fixation, colors #3628 "Ruby" and #8001 "Bleach" on U.S. size 3 needles.
Except for the game losses (he he), these were simple and easy to make, and as most of you know by now, the toe-up sock pattern is a good one. This was my first time using Fixation, and I thought it seemed a bit strange at first (elasticity is weird). But I ended up liking it just fine, although the socks are definitely on the cushy/thick side, so be forewarned if you don't like that kind of thing.

I had to model them myself since G was gone, so they look a bit baggy on me. (Psst...notice the yellow afghan on the couch that my Grandma knitted for me when I was 5 yrs old?)And what is that other thing in front of my feet? New project, yay!This is the "Ballerina Wrap" from The Little Sublime Handknit Book, which has some easy, basic, cute baby patterns. Being made for a friend who is due in September; the baby's a girl but I thought I'd do it in blue with white edging just to give her a break from what will surely be a landslide of pink garments! The yarn is Rowan RYC Cashsoft Baby DK, a perfectly serviceable and soft yarn though perhaps a bit overpriced given the amount of synthetic fiber in it. I am also worried it will pill easily due to its softness, but I guess that remains to be seen. Anyway, I think it will only be another week or so before it's done, cuz it's sooo tiny!
Happy knitting, and stay cool (if you're in the northern hemisphere, anyway!)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Caister, Finally

The great button drought of '07 has lifted, and I finally was able to buy some buttons to finish my Caister:Unfortunately this has turned out to be one of my less-favorite knits. It doesn't look too bad in the photos but there are a ton of little things that annoy me about it. Despite my effort to lengthen the body, it is still on the short side and I'll probably always have to be pulling it down, which is so annoying. I hate to think what it would've looked like if I hadn't lengthened it! I'm hoping that this will turn out to be one of those cotton knits that ends up stretching over time.

Another annoying thing is that the prescribed method for edging the sleeves, waistband, and collar does not keep the edges from curling up. I pretty much suspected this would be the case, since it was just picking up stitches and then casting them off, but I was hoping I'd be wrong. You can see the "flip" action of the collar in this rear view:I do like the way the shoulders fit, although I must say it was rather challenging making sure that the second sleeve's stripe pattern lined up with the front in the same way the first sleeve did. I must have ripped out and re-inserted the second sleeve three or four times!

The final thing (completely my fault) was that my row gauge was a bit off, and I should have compensated by adding some extra rows onto the collar. As it came out, it is a bit small and does not have the nice floppy look of the original.Oh well, despite these annoyances, it does look pretty in close-up view. I guess every knit can be a favorite!Pattern Notes:
"Caister" from Rowan 41, Knit in Rowan 4-ply Cotton on 3.25 mm needles
I did not find any problems with the pattern, but I would recommend possibly lengthening the body (unless you're going for a very cropped look) and finding a different method of edging. I did find one other person who knit Caister, and I think hers came out much better than mine, so don't let my troubles scare you from this pattern!

We got to go see the new Harry Potter movie this weekend, and I must say I liked it quite a bit more than the last one. It still wasn't any Prisoner of Azkaban though, which is my gold standard of the series. Like many other knitters, I was totally in love with a bunch of the knitted and crocheted items, particularly the hooded sweater that Hermione wears, which appeared to be in Gryffindor colors. I was looking around online to see if anyone had a still of it (alas, no luck), but I did find a number of discussions on it. Interestingly, it seems that those of us who saw the movie at a normal theater say the sweater was made Gryffindor colors and those who saw the IMAX version say it is maroon with pink and/or white stripes! Hmmm...I wonder which is correct??


Sunday, July 08, 2007

I made something silly!It's a mankei neko or "fortune cat", or at least my interpretation of one. This was based on the pattern from Just Jussi, although I did make mine quite a bit bigger than the pattern--I think he's just under a foot tall (I cast on double the number of stitches to start). It's made from TLC Cotton Plus yarn and I found it surprisingly nice to work with. Since this yarn doesn't felt (which is what the pattern recommends), I knit it on US size 4 needles, which is a size or two smaller than the recommended size.

Besides being black for Project Spectrum, I also tried to incorporate metallic accents in the embroidery. It's a little hard to see, but there is sparkly blue blending filament in there:I also made a cool rose that I was going to have the cat hold instead of the traditional coin, but I think I like him better without it. The rose was made using a pattern entitled "Rosa d'Amore" from the 2006 Knitting Pattern-a-Day calendar (May 18th). I used Rowan 4-ply cotton, of which I am starting to gather quite a large collection of leftovers, as was the cat's collar. I love the way it turned out, but it just seemed like too much on the cat, so I guess I'll have to save it for something else.

Next up, I finally dragged the Stinky Sox out of hiding (just in time for the Sox to start going downhill again, ha ha). I figured now would be the perfect time to finish them, considering they are red and all. It took me about three tries to remember which size needle I had been using (turns out it was a US 3), but now that's sorted out I should hopefully be done with them in a jiffy!


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

All aboard for a tour of a Fourth of July parade in Maine!There was lots of Project Spectrum red to be seen:(and metallic chrome too!)
Kids were running around scooping up all the candy being tossed from the floats:I was tossed a few pieces as well, out of pity no doubt!
These guys were having a grand time squirting everyone with an old-fashioned hand-pumped fire hose:If you've ever wondered what Santa Claus does during the summer months, he made an appearance on his own personal party barge:Happy Fourth of July!

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

It certainly does not feel like the first day of July up here--can you believe it only got up to 60 degrees today? Yikes! Not that I'm complaining, I can't stand that hot, muggy crap we were having earlier in the week--but I wouldn't mind being able to open the windows without freezing, LOL!

The cool weather on Saturday provided a perfect excuse to take advantage of the first weekend of strawberry picking. There were still quite a few berries that hadn't fully ripened, but we managed to scrounge up eight quarts. Perfect for this month's Project Spectrum red color, no? I used half of them to make my first-ever batch of strawberry jam:Based on my sneaky taste-tests from the bottom of the pot, it tastes pretty good! Although, I must say that the strawberry shortcake I made tastes even better:Mmm...I love summer fruit (and veggie) just can't beat it!
Just so you don't think I've gone completely strawberry-mad, here is a picture of the cute little family that lives around our office building:Gives me something fun to look at during the work day!