Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's All About the Numbers

I am slowly learning both in master's thesis life and in knitting life that it's all about the numbers. Today I learned that whatever the statistical model says, goes, regardless of what my logic and general knowledge says is probably closer to the truth. Though it probably is closer to the truth, we still can't say it, because it does not agree with the model, and the model is objective and quantitative and all we have to hang our proverbial hats on. Sigh. Science, you are a cruel master.

As for knitting life, I'm finding I reach a threshold level of "oh no, I have too much yarn" and then need to destash a little to feel better about myself. I'm not sure what the magical number is that makes me feel like it's too much, and apparently that number has been on the rise since my stash has steadily grown, but today I bit the bullet and destashed some lovely skeins that I just knew weren't going to be knit anytime soon. And a few of them involved red, too, so I'm being extra practical! I listened to my own advice from the last post and decided enough was enough with the red-that-matches-nothing-else-I-wear colorways. 

Speaking of numbers, I added a knitmeter to the blog. How fun! 7,761 yards in one year sounds like a lot, but I bet there are people with knitmeters that have much higher readings. If I ever completely lose my mind I might try to figure out the average number of stitches I knit per yard in my projects so I can calculate the total number of stitches I've knit in the year. That would probably be mind-blowing! Also, if I ever feel like going on a guilt trip I could calculate the total yardage of yarn I've stashed in a year and compare it to the amount I've knit... on second thought, I'm pretty sure that would be a horrible idea.

Take home message: screw the numbers and just keep knitting! :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Seeing Red

I forgot to post about my finished holiday hat! Here's a romantic picture taken by the light of my fluorescent desk lamp:

Hat in Codex, colorway Brangion

Not the best shot, but you get the point! This hat is wonderfully silky, drapey, and shiny. I credit that entirely to the yarn, Codex, a 52% silk, 48% BFL wool single that is just amazing. It is sadly going away, since it will not be carried by either of the new stores emerging from the demise of The Sanguine Gryphon, at least not at first. This made me panicky, so I stashed quite a few skeins over the last couple of months. Like this one:

Codex, colorway Murder Will Out
So pretty! The hat pattern I followed is here, but I made a few mods. It's easy to modify because it is a very simple pattern of stockinette broken up by purl ridges in different places. The hat came out a tad bit loose and long (the pattern did not include great gauge information and nothing about the length), but I'm not going to do anything about it at the moment. I'm going to knit it again in a different color with some changes for a gift, and if I like those changes better I will consider tinking back on my hat and re-knitting some of it. A worsted weight hat that's mostly plain stockinette goes pretty quickly, so no big deal.

Red is usually not my color. My wardrobe consists of a grand total of 3 red shirts, 2 of them are tee-shirts that I only wear to work out or sleep in. I tend to learn towards cool blues, greens, purples, and greys (like the yarn above). But I do like the deep maroon of the hat very much, it reminds me of garnet, which is my birthstone. And it matches one of my favorite shawls:

Aestlight shawl, in Bugga Cowkiller and Socks That Rock LW Sweet Pea
What I don't understand, though, is why I have so many pairs of socks that involve warm colors. Why?! I like to coordinate my socks with my outfits (OCD much?) and that is difficult to do when most of my clothing consists of cool colors and 6 out of the 9 completed pairs involve warm ones. That's 67%! And the Xmas Rocks socks I'm making now involve both red and pink. I better get cracking on some blue socks soon, methinks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post-Holiday Recovery

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving had a lovely one! Mine was somewhat hectic as I was up until 3am finishing the first draft of my thesis Thursday morning and then had to drive 5 hours. But I made it and it was nice to get some family time in, despite being half asleep.

Last night my Fiasco and I went to see The Trans-Siberian Orchestra play in Hartford. Their show was fantastic! Here's a Youtube link to one of their most popular songs, in case you are unfamiliar. They rocked SO HARD in person. I never thought I'd see a holiday concert that involved giant flaming dragon jaws:
but there's your proof! We had great seats, got fake-snowed on, and were right underneath the platform that some band members walked out onto during part of the show. Very very cool, I highly recommend catching it if you can.

To keep the holiday theme going, we got a teeny tiny Christmas tree and decorated it today:
We have a small apartment and no yard whatsoever so we figured this would be easier to deal with than a full-sized tree, and honestly it's so cute I don't really mind that it's small. It might be weird that part of my Thanksgiving recovery was getting ready for Christmas, but it worked. I'm feeling pretty happy, relaxed, and festive at the moment.

Unfortunately, knitting around these parts has been scarce lately. I've been too dang busy (I'm shocked, too...) but I will show you something I made last year:
This wee little sock ornament currently resides on the wee little tree shown above. It's made from Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock (which is by far, hands down, my favorite sock yarn of all time) in the colorway X-mas Rocks. I used size 3.00mm needles and cast on around 18 stitches and did a K1P1 cuff which I folded down.  I think it's adorable and love seeing its happy colors on the tree. I'm working on a human-sized pair of socks in this colorway as well. I had started them last February when I needed something plain and brainless to knit while reading journal articles, but lost the mojo once winter was over. (I have a lost-the-sock-mojo problem we will be discussing at length in the near future.) I'm on the foot of the first sock and my goal is to finish by Christmas. It would be a no-brainer if I didn't have a boatload of gifts to knit before then, too. We'll have to see.

I'd like to knit more ornaments to give away this year. Do you have any favorite ornament patterns or holiday-themed knits?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Resistance Was Futile

I gave in to the siren song of shiny, pretty yarn:

Dear slouchy Codex hat,

Thank you for being the only slice of happiness in these past few hellish days of thesis writing. Your soft, drapey silk and BFL wool yarn is soothing to the touch and beautiful to the eye. The deep wine red color reminds me that the holiday season is fast approaching, but in a warm&fuzzy good way because it means that at some point in the near future, I will not be writing this thesis and I will also have a pretty hat.
Thank you for that hope!

Much love,

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I can't believe how fast November is going and how soon Thanksgiving is approaching! It is one of my favorite holidays, I love getting together with my family and kicking off the winter season, but I am facing it with some trepidation this year. I'm working on a final draft of my master's thesis and trying to get the data and everything pulled together to give to my professor before the break and it has gotten quite down-to-the-wire. My mom would say that I do my best work under this kind of pressure and while that might be true, I still hate it. I haven't slept well in weeks and I spend 95% of my time in front of this computer. It's getting old, to say the least. Plus, it's super difficult to work all the time when pretty things like this keep arriving in the mail:

That is Bugga in Colorado Hairstreak 2.0. I love how the colorway names are based on the insect and invertebrate species that inspire the colors. Here's what a Colorado Hairstreak looks like, in case you were wondering:

Beautiful, and I think they got it spot on! What's also neat is this skein is a commemorative colorway created for the moving of one of my favorite wish-it-were-really-local yarn stores, The Loopy Ewe, from St. Louis to Colorado. The shop is wonderful, they ship super quickly and carry great yarn lines. I specifically requested a skein that had less of the brown and more of the blue/purple and the Loopy elves really came through! It's perfect. I think it is destined to become a Magrathea Shawl:

Picture from pattern page, by Maltina on Ravelry

I've had that shawl queued forever. Not only is it an interesting shape and full of garter stitch goodness (which I love), it's named after a planet in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, one of my favorite authors of all time. Clearly, I must knit it ASAP.

Except I have other things to finish first. Like the Sunset Shawl I started a few weeks ago that got stalled because I worked on it during a road trip and got off by a stitch for several of the edging repeats and needed time to concentrate in order to frog back successfully (which I loathe):

It's further along than the picture shows here, but you get the idea-- that cabled edging is repeated around the entire semi-circle of the shawl body. It's a very pretty pattern with interesting construction and since I'm knitting it in Malabrigo Twist, it is of course ridiculously soft. And then there's the cowl design I started and the hat I want to knit to match my favorite holiday shawl and this and that and this and that, etc.

Things I'm anticipating:
  • finishing this thesis draft
  • traveling to see family
  • finishing Sunset Shawl
  • starting/finishing/wearing matching hat
  • starting Magrathea shawl
  • FINISHING MY MASTER'S AND HAVING TIME TO KNIT (Siiiigh... Jan. 5th is still so far away.)
What about you, dear readers, what are you all waiting for?

P.S. It would be awesome if some experienced bloggers could fill me in on blog etiquette. I've found that I keep wishing this was more like Ravelry where I could reply to individual comments on the page and have the commenter see or be notified about my reply, but I don't think that happens. How do you handle replies? Do you e-mail your reply to the commenter? Does this get to be too much e-mail? Please help a newbie out if you can, it would be much appreciated! :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Exciting Times!

Ladies and gents, my first published (and free) pattern on Ravelry! Introducing, Beribboned Wrists:

These sweet, feminine wristwarmers are knit with about 150 yards of worsted weight yarn, shown here in Zaftig Bugga, colorway Fierce Snake.

They are a simple combination of different ribbing patterns with a few eyelets thrown in for kicks, but the ribbon really makes them fun. These are for me because I am a selfish, selfish knitter but the more generous amongst you will hopefully find that they would make nice holiday gifts. Normally I'm bored by too much ribbing but the eyelet lace broke it up enough to make it more interesting, plus worsted weight yarn meant they were done in a flash.

They are large enough at the wrist to cover some of the palm but snug enough in the forearm to stay in place. I find they really do the trick of keeping me warm when its chilly indoors, and you can pull them down over your fingers for extra warmth outdoors. They can be resized quite easily by casting on more or less stitches in multiples of five, or just by changing needle size to tighten or loosen things up a little bit. I'm really quite pleased with these and hope you enjoy them! (And I may or may not already have a cowl version in the works... this designing thing could get addicting.)

Do please let me know if you find any mistakes with the pattern or if you can't access it on Ravelry for some reason, I finished editing it and uploaded everything around 3:30am (because that's how I roll) so there's a decent chance that something went wrong... :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

"It Is the Season of Migrants"

I realize it's been fall for a while (I mean, we've already had snow) but the last few days in particular have felt very autumnal. I love fall, it's probably my favorite season. It's a contemplative season. It feels reflective and calm and like the whole world is hunkering down and snuggling up. But most importantly, it's wool season.

I've been reading a very interesting series of blog posts by Kate Davies over at needled. She is a Scottish academic who writes about textile history (also has some great designs) and lately she's been blogging all about Wovember, a movement to turn November into a celebration of all things 100% wool. Her posts point out how many commercially made garments claim to be made of wool or have 'wool' in the description while they actually contain 0% wool. She also discusses some of the history behind wool, it's pretty fascinating stuff. Go read it!

Here's a fall poem with ecological undertones I came across earlier today:

Echoing Light by W.S. Merwin

When I was beginning to read I imagined
that bridges had something to do with birds
and with what seemed to be cages but I knew
that they were not cages it must have been autumn
with the dusty light flashing from the streetcar wires
and those orange places on fire in the pictures
and now indeed it is autumn the clear
days not far from the sea with a small wind nosing
over dry grass that yesterday was green
the empty corn standing trembling and a down
of ghost flowers veiling the ignored fields
and everywhere the colors I cannot take
my eyes from all of them red even the wide streams
red it is the season of migrants
flying at night feeling the turning earth
beneath them and I woke in the city hearing
the call notes of the plover then again and
again before I slept and here far downriver
flocking together echoing close to the shore
the longest bridges have opened their slender wings

Happy, happy fall...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sneak Peek

Woohoo, guess what I finished last night (well, early EARLY this morning)?

The first half of my first real design! :) That's fun to say. I love it, all that tinking was worth it. It's a tiny bit tight on my forearm because I have rather large arms, but I was NOT about to frog the whole thing back and start over... again. I'm going to just go with 'my arms will shrink soon' and really, nobody wants a loose armwarmer anyway.

But seriously, how pretty is that ribbon? When I saw the color of the yarn in person (Zaftig, Fierce Snake) it made me think of ribbons and lace and corsets and Victorian things. Thus, this gauntlet/wristwarmer/whatever was born. It would be pretty simple to de-ribbon it, too, if you didn't want the extra prettiness. More pics when I write it up and publish it.

Also, from now on whenever I start to feel bad about this whole yarn obsession thing, I'm going to remember this:
That's my Fiasco, with his new video game, huddled under blankets hiding from the light of day so he can see the TV screen better. Despite the vast amounts of yarn I buy and how much I talk about knitting, I don't think I've ever looked quite this silly. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Days go by quickly in the blogging world, I was going to try to post every other day and I've skipped four! I'm pretty sure I was a zombie for most of those days, though, so that's my lame excuse. For whatever reason, I do my best thesis writing between 8pm and 3am, so my sleep schedule has been out of whack for weeks now. However, in about 4-5 weeks, all of that should be over. Actually, when I say it like that, it doesn't really sound so close. But it is.

In happier news, I've started trying to design some wristwarmers!
That's just the cuff so far, knit in Sanguine Gryphon's new worsted-weight merino/cashmere/nylong yarn, Zaftig, in the colorway Fierce Snake, which I'm kind of in love with. It's this neat neutral tan color with shots of teal, green, pink, and magenta through it. This is definitely out of my typical color range but I love it. I really like the base, too, but at the price/yardage I can only afford to make 1-skein projects with it. In light of that, and figuring I can't be the only one, I thought it would be neat to try to come up with a 1-skein design. When my power (and thus heat and water) were out for days during the October Snowpocalypse here in New England, I was wishing for some wrist or armwarmers. I have plenty of fingerless gloves, but I wanted some nice thick wristwarmers to keep the heat trapped in while still allowing my palms and fingers to be free to knit. I can knit wearing fingerless gloves, but I don't like it. Apparently I use my palms a lot for handling the needles and yarn, for feeling where things are, and the tips of my DPNs kept getting stuck in the fabric. I used to think "Armwarmers? Weird! What good are those? Just wear gloves!" but then I started to think about it and realized I could maybe use some. In addition to frozen knitting, they would come in handy in my office where I am constantly leaning my forearms on my ice-cold metal desk. So I'm giving it a shot. I can't tell how many times I've tinked back already, though. I keep changing my mind about needle size and the numbers of stitches to cast on and the type of ribbing to do and how I want everything to line up in the end. These better be the prettiest wristwarmers in all the land when they are done!

Here's some recent new SG yarn I've acquired through a destash, Bugga in Black Witch Moth:
I'm excited about this color! I passed it by when it was updated but I'm glad I snagged a couple of skeins now. I think the complex teal/green/neutral combo will make a great garter-stitch heavy shawl, like Celaeno, which I've had queued for quite some time. I'm starting to compile a list of all the pretty things I want to cast on when my holiday knitting (which I'm already procrastinating about) is done.

Speaking of new yarn, have you ever experienced a Cancellation of Shame? I ordered some skeins of yarn from a 'closet cleaning' update on the SG website and woke up at 4:30am thinking "Oh no, I shouldn't have bought those!" because I want to use that money for other yarn that's currently out of stock and I quite frankly don't really need it. I sent an email requesting to cancel my order and just felt so... silly? Have you ever purchased yarn impulsively and regretted it? Have you ever re-purchased yarn you forgot you already had? Make me feel better about my Cancellation of Shame, please! I think it might be good for me to knit from stash next year...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Well, then. I posted a request over in my one of my favorite groups on Ravelry (The soon-to-be-no-more Sanguine Gryphon) for recommendations of knitting blogs to read, and I had so many great responses! I've added them all to my "Who I Follow" tab and look forward to checking them out in my downtime.

Today I wore the Rock Island shawl I made out of SG's Mithril, a 100% wool laceweight yarn that is truly lovely. It has several plies which makes it feel nice and strong for a laceweight. The skeins have a generous 750 yards and the wool softens up so nicely after blocking.
I used the colorway Brightness of Day, from the Spring/Summer 2011 lineup. It certainly lives up to its name! I have a few more skeins of Mithril stashed that I'm looking forward to knitting. So much lace, so little time.

So, about The Sanguinge Gryphon. I will miss them. If you're unfamiliar with them, they are a wonderful team of hand-dyers who create unique, beautiful colors on deliciously scrummy yarn bases. Bugga is their most popular, a sport-weight merino/cashmere/nylon blend that truly does live up to the hype.

 See? That's their Bugga base in Painted Damsel, an extraordinarily hard-to-get color that I was only able to obtain when they did a special unlimited update for it. I love their other bases as well, like QED (100% BFL wool) and Codex (50-50 BFL and silk) and I will be sorry to see them go. What amazes me the most about their company is the way they built up such a fan base. Colorways are stalked, limited updates can be frenzied, and people will ring up the debt just to get sweater quantities in a color they MUST HAVE. By people, I do mean me. I haven't reached sweater quantities yet but I will buy yarn that I didn't know I couldn't live without until they decided to dye it! It truly is amazing. It's comforting to know that certain bases won't be disappearing forever, SG is going to split into two brand new companies that will carry a few bases we know and love to start with, but it is a bit unsettling to know it is all going to change. On the one hand, I like being able to have a fairly good chance of getting a colorway I love on a base that I need for the project I have in mind. Since they will begin with limited base types and probably limited stock, I'm pretty sure that ability will be going away and honestly, I like using worsted weight yarn and neither company will be carrying any to begin with. But on the other hand, this could be good for me to curb my yarn purchasing. Like a smoker quitting cold turkey, maybe having SG close at approximately the same time that I will be finishing my master's degree and looking for a job will be a good thing for me, help me kick the habit. I'd like to knit up some more of the lovely skeins I already have sometime in the near future!

I'll declare it here: 2012 will be the Year of Knitting from the Stash. Yes. I can purchase new yarn only with a gift certificate or as a reward for hitting a weight-loss goal. I think that seems fair. And just because I won't be buying new yarn doesn't mean I won't be talking about yarn on this blog, there will be plenty, and I think talking about the skeins I already have will help me fight the urge to buy more. Makes sense, yes? Besides, there are no holds barred until the end of 2011. I still have two solid months of frenzied get-it-before-it's-gone purchases to make. :)

What's your yarny weakness? What makes you HAVE TO HAVE it?

Monday, November 7, 2011


Hello, world!

Welcome to the very first post on my brand new blog. I've been writing in an online journal (LiveJournal) for years, but I felt it was about time to gather my knitterly thoughts and record them all in a more accessible place. This way the Muggles don't have to listen to me go on and on and on about yarn while the Knitters don't have to weed through me whining about my thesis or gushing about how cute my cat is (ok, she'll probably show up from time to time) to get to the stuff they're more interested in. Plus, it helps me rationalize spending even more time thinking and talking about knitting. Win-win-win!

Since I'm in a let's-make-a-list kind of mood, here are the things that I'm hoping to accomplish with this blog:
  • discuss my current unhealthy obsession relationship with yarn
  • explore some of my projects in detail and what I learned from them
  • rave about my favorite books, designers, yarn dyers, bloggers
  • catalog some of my favorite techniques
  • make friends! bloggy knitting friends!
  • document what I hope will become a successful attempt at designing knitwear patterns myself
  • hopefully get feedback on designs, techniques, tips and tricks, great yarns to try, books to buy, etc. from the lovely and generous hive mind of knitters out there
 So-- goals, check! Means to accomplish goals, check! Now just to make it happen. And what better time to start all this than when in the thick of writing my master's thesis, right? Gotta do what it takes to stay sane, I say. I'm pretty excited.

A little knitting background: a very good friend of mine (Rachie!) taught me to knit in '06 and I knit some simple things while I was laid up after knee surgery. Then I stopped for a year or so and picked it up again in earnest in 2009 when I began graduate school. I am now at the tail end of my master's program and over these last few years knitting has gone from something I could sort of do to something I must do all the time!!! I went from spending my fun money on clothes and books and DVDs to just buying yarn, yarn, and more yarn. I'm not a very fast knitter nor have I yet tackled something as practical and impressive as a sweater, but I am a great lover of knitted socks and shawls and I have many blogs and books to thank for their introductions to these joys, so I'm hoping I can pay it forward and convert brainwash inspire a neo-knitter or two, myself. Thanks for reading, and I hope you join me for the ride!