It was hanging outside my back door when I forced it open (I have essentially no eave [that seems odd... can that word be used in the singular?] over the door, which means snow piles up right outside it) this morning to find my big shovel so I could dig out my car. I failed to find the big shovel, in large part because it wasn't apparently within arm's reach of the door (this is as far as I got the door open). And, yes, after I took the picture I knocked it down because I didn't want it crashing down upon me as I leaned out to grasp for the shovel.
I did nonetheless dig out my car. Not that I want to use it today, in particular, but I agreed to go out for dim sum to a place I must drive to tomorrow morning, and I'd rather just hop in and take off.
Y'all, it's cold here. It's cold in a lot of places, I know, including a lot of places people I know live. But still, it's worth commenting that it's cold here.
This makes me all the happier that last night I finished off the hat I started Sunday evening. The knitting went super quickly, but there was a seam I didn't feel like dealing with until last night.
Crappy picture, but cute, very warm hat.
I was inspired by seeing this post over the weekend--I realized that I had some chunky alpaca yarn that I'd picked up a few years ago at the Estes Park wool market, and never figured out what do to with.
And so, urchin, size medium, in Misti Alpaca Chunky, I think color "ember melange," though I've thought of it as ox-blood, on 7 mm needles. I only had double pointed needles in that size, so I stuck needle caps on ends and used those--there's only 22 stitches per row, so that's no problem.
Most of all, since it's alpaca, even though it's got places where it looks a little loosely knit, it's quite warm. I wore it this morning and my head was toasty. Or as toasty as it's possible to be when the temperatures drop into, as I like to call them, snot-freezing temperatures. Sorry, I know that's gross, but it's also the best description there is, as far as I'm concerned.
Among the many things I bought from the lovely Laura of Textiles a Mano before I left Colorado was some beautiful autumnally shaded fine merino. Last summer I decided it needed to be paired with a leaf pattern, as in the Voyager Stole from elann.com. And so I cast on and began to knit. Initially I made it not quite wide enough, and tore out a good 12-16 inches. But from that point on, it went swimmingly, but slowly. I'd work a few pattern repeats here and there, between other projects, or when nothing else seemed appealing. Just now, I decided to get it finished and out of my knitting basket, in part because I've been waiting to figure out what I'm going to do with the pink thing, and in part because... it's time.
And so, voila. It blocked out beautifully, and even a bit larger than I expected it to be--and in a good way. I tried to remember that lace grows when washed and blocked, and thus stopped knitting a little bit sooner than I might have otherwise. And the result is just about the perfect size, as far as I'm concerned. I've had issues recently with making things a touch too long, but this... nope!
You can't really tell here, but I got to use my newish blocking wires for the first time. It just so happened that exactly the width of these boards was pretty much what I wanted (I think it came to about 27" across, which is strange, but there you go). I figured I'd just use regular pins for the edge, because I wanted it a bit scalloped, but once I got used to threading the wires through the shawl edges (which took a bit of getting used to), the rest was much more pleasant than many of my blocking experiences. This is after it sat overnight, MOSTLY undisturbed by small Ziti feet, I think. Although there are a couple of pins pulled out on the lower left corner, and I suspect his involvement.
I am, in short, quite pleased with the combination of pattern, yarn, and blocking. While knitting I worried a bit that the yarn, even though it's fairly subtle, was going to be too much for the pattern. But in the end, after blocking, I think they balance fairly well. I must, however, admit that doing this much of a single short-repeat pattern gets a little long in the tooth after a while. This is why it took so long to finish (I first cast on last July), because I'd happily knit along, and then get deeply, deeply bored.
It's all the more impressive that I just finished, because of this.
That's Mii, getting ready for the hula hoop challenge. And the step boxing thing? Awesome. I think I'll be getting all my aggression out easily this term, and in reasonably productive ways. Except I also just downloaded World of Goo. It may not look like it, but this could be problematic for my productivity.
For some reason, late this winter I got inspired to do a bunch of gift knitting for the holidays. I don't always do this, but I got a couple of ideas this winter that seemed like a good idea at the time. The failed rangoli hat was obviously not such a good choice, but I did finish a second version of it in Malabrigo worsted, color "China," that I also forgot to photograph.
For my sister and my mother, I made something like this:
It's hard to tell, no? It's a smoke ring--a lacy tube that can be worn as a cowl, or more or less as a hood (though I think I made them a little on the short side for a true hood), for extra warmth. This is my sister's, and my mother's was the same pattern in a pale grey. I used llama lace yarn from Americo Original, a relatively big needle for the yarn thickness, and the stitch pattern from the pomatomus socks. Doing it that way emphasizes the laciness of that pattern, which isn't usually all that apparent in socks. I've been sort of interested in that pattern for ages, but never quite made up my mind to make the socks. I may like the pattern done this way even better.
For my great aunt, I made this:
It's ladylungdoctor's "speedy yet effective" variation on cosmicpluto's "simple yet effective" shawl. It's in the multi-brown alpaca that I have been trying to figure out how to use for... years, now. It figured in my abortive attempt to knit the union square pullover before I remembered that I prefer cardigans. It's the same kind of yarn in the unsuccessful rangoli hat. But this has made me realize that what it really wants to be, most likely, is something soft and a little floaty, like this. In fact, I like how this came out so much that I'm making another one for me.
Finally, I knit these for my dad.
Smooshy socks, in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport, colorway "camouflage." I wanted to knit them to his feet, so I wrapped the yarn with a picture suggesting it could be made into either socks or gloves. He picked socks, and I was amazed to be able to finish them before I left. I sort of mentally classify my dad's feet as, well, big. And they are, but using this slightly heavier than normal (for socks) yarn, and size 2 (or 3? I can't remember what I used) needles, they actually went really quickly. I did a simple 4x2 ribbed pattern to give them some interest and give, and think they came out really rather nicely. They're lounging around socks, not wear under dress shoes socks, but hopefully they'll keep his feet warm. (I also used reinforcing thread in the heels [which are afterthought heels] and toes, fyi.)
Now I'll probably regress to my normal selfish knitting mode. But hopefully, and considering that it's turning into quite a winter again, all these things will be cozy for the next little while.
I have for the most part been very happy indeed with how this is turning out. It's the crazy cabled wrap/cardigan I started late last year (here). It was briefly derailed by Christmas knitting, and now has been put on hold because of my need to make a big decision.
Here's the thing. The main panel's finished, with big thick luxurious cables. I love it.
But, as I somewhat anticipated, but really to a much greater degree than I'd anticipated, I'm really running out of yarn. In principle I'm supposed to put on two long sleeves and then pick up stitches around the bottom edge to add length. Obviously that's not so necessary in the front, but the back?
Yeah, kind of short. I absolutely don't have enough yarn to do all of that. Since it's a hand-dyed yarn from years ago (I bought it in 2006, but it was discounted to the point that I think that Laura had probably dyed it a good while before that) I'm not going to be able to find more yarn to match exactly (though I posted on ravelry in hopes that it might show up).
So, I see three possible solutions.
Divide the remaining yarn into two equal balls, tackle the sleeves, and use anything leftover (I rather doubt there's be much, if anything) to add a bit of length.
Start by adding length, and then divide the remaining yarn into two balls and make up whatever kind of sleeves I can out of the remnants.
Find a yarn that could be mixed in with this one in alternating rows, and add the full sleeves and length. (I think Cascade 220 has a dusty rose that might work.)
Find a yarn that would be distinctly a different thing, but try to add that in as a design element--long cuffs, say, or a different skirt.
I'm deeply divided over which of these options to choose. I lean away from 4, because I don't know that I'd wear the resulting sweater. On the other hand, this is probably going to be more of a knocking around the house sweater than a wear out to teach sweater, so perhaps it wouldn't matter. But I can see benefits and drawbacks to the other three options.
Seriously, I'd love feedback.
In other news, Miss Sophie wants everyone to know that she's very glad that Ziti didn't come to visit this Christmas, because it was traumatic enough dealing with that Bailey boy.
It's weird looking at a lot of the year end coverage this year, because 2008 was such a problematic (and that's probably putting it kindly) year in so many ways. And yet, for me, 2008 was really a pretty good year.
I traveled to interesting places. I spent time with family and friends. I met new people, and established better friendships with others. I had a very good year, professionally (OK, I'm superstitious enough that I'm knocking on wood about that, given that this year is really my most important year professionally--tenure review). I partook of a lot of good culture. I played with my cat. I knit some stuff that I absolutely love. I look like a financial genius because I kept meaning to invest the money I've been saving since moving to Toronto, and never got around to it, so it's all (all... it's not that much) still sitting in a savings account.
It wasn't perfect. My perpetual good intentions when it comes to living healthier failed to lead to lasting change. I spent much of the fall rather unhappy about the rhetoric of politics in the US, though I was in the end happy with how things turned out (expect for the fact that I think my home state would be better served by anarchy than by the idiot who's currently in charge). Although I've been lucky, there's been stress for a lot of people close to me.
But all in all, I'm very fortunate. And I have great hopes for the new year, with plans for travel and both professional and personal development.