Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Eggplant gloves

Just when it gets to be too warm in Austin for gloves, I finish . . .

A pair of gloves.

Actually, these gloves have been sort of done for a while. I made them out of the leftover eggplant Opal yarn that I used to make my Armwarmers, but didn't get around to weaving all the ends in for a long time. They especially got pushed to the backburner while I was trying to finish up all of GPG's Valentine presents.

Still, regardless of my unwillingness to suck it up and weave in the ends (gloves have so many ends to weave in!), there's no denying that it's been too warm for gloves in Austin for a while now. I will just have to save these babies for next fall/winter.

This past winter, I wore a pair of glittens that I made a little over a year ago out of some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport. They are nice enough, but I think the looseness of the mitten top lets my fingers get colder than I would really like when the temperature's down. Also, I wasn't too careful with the thumbs, so they both ended up being a little short. So I decided to try knitting up some gloves and was very careful about making sure all the fingers fit properly. Fitting the fingers is actually harder than it initially seems. I ended up reknitting all the fingers on one of the gloves at least twice.

Pattern: Gloves from Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns
Yarn: Louet Gems Opal, eggplant purple
Needles: Brittany Birch US 5 DPNs
Recipient: Me

The gloves seem warm enough, but they haven't really been put to the test. I may try them out in Japan, since it looks like it will still be a little chilly when we go in a couple weeks. But if the gloves turn out not to be as warm as I hope, at least that will give me some extra incentive to knit up some Anemoi mittens!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fern socks!

Socks can get knit up pretty quickly if 1) You use reasonably sized yarn; and 2) You are a second-semester 3L who isn't doing any real schoolwork. When finals roll around, I will probably regret slacking off on my class reading so much this semester, but in the meantime I am enjoying my knitting and getting FOs done more quickly than ever during my whole law school career.

FOs such as . . .

The Fern socks!

It certainly helps that I'm currently studying for the MPRE by reading through the professional responsibility rules. This gives me lots of knitting time while I'm actually doing something that will ostensibly aid me in both law school (I'm taking a class on the subject now) and in my legal career (the exam is in two weeks). I will always remember the Fern socks as my MPRE socks.

Pattern: My own. Just a standard ribbed pattern of K1P1 rib at the cuff and K4P2 rib after that.
Yarn: The Farn ("Fern") colorway from Wollmeise
Needles: Addi Turbos, US 1, two circulars (24", 16")
Recipient: Maybe the Chairwoman, for her birthday in May (I'm planning ahead!)

I have to say that I was bit reckless with these socks. I have a scale; I should have weighed out the yarn I had leftover from the Aspiring Ecologist's ankle socks, split it in two, and done toe-up socks to make sure I had enough yarn for the size I wanted. But I decided to live life on the edge (such as it is), and I cast-on with nary a care for yardage. I lucked out and finished the socks with no more than a few yards left. Yee haw!

In fact, I'm feeling so cocky from my gamble with my remaining Fern yarn that I'm taking the same gamble with the newest socks to grace the needles: I'm FINALLY using some of the STR in the stash for a nice pair of plain stockinette socks. (I thought stockinette would best show off the beautiful colors.) The rational side of me says this is stupid; the rational side of me predicts I will run out of yarn; the rational side of me threatens to gloat when this happens. If I were a yarn yardage lawyer, I would never recommend trying to replicate the same yardage derring-do.

But, I am not a yarn yardage lawyer, and you only live once. So cuff-down socks it is. Pictures to come soon as MPRE studying progresses.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

On the needles

Here's a sneak peak at what's currently on the needles:

You may recognize this yarn as the "Farn" ("Fern") colorway from Wollmeise that I used to make the Aspiring Ecologist's Christmas ankle socks.

Since this photo was taken, I've turned the heel and am now working on the foot of the second sock. (It's amazing how much faster this yarn knits up than the crazy small cotton yarn I used for GPG's socks!) I should have a finished pair to show you soon.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Eye Candy Friday: Weimar

GPG picked out this week's Eye Candy Friday photo. It's a picture I took in Weimar last month, but I'm afraid I can't give much more detail than that. There are a lot of older buildings in the town that used to belong to wealthy nobility or powerful civil servants, so this is probably one of them.

This will be one of the last photos from Germany, I promise. For one thing, I'm running out of good pictures. For another, in about three or four weeks I'll be able to post photos from . . . JAPAN!

Yes, I am finally going to visit the Chairpeople in Japan. I surprised myself with how quickly I made the decision to buy the ticket and go, but I was somewhat impelled by the fact that the Chairpeople recently determined that they probably won't be there past the end of this year. And all things being equal, my spring break is the best time for me to visit, weather-wise, time-wise, bar-exam-wise, and starting-work-this-fall-wise.

So in about two weeks, I will take the MPRE (the professional responsibility exam that you have to take to become a for-reals lawyer), then board a plane the next day to go see the Chairpeople in Kyoto. GPG is coming, too, and we're pretty excited about it. We bought a great guidebook and I've been reading about all the beautiful things there are to see. In addition to its many temples and historical sights, Kyoto is famous for all its beautiful handicrafts. Just the sort of thing to appeal to a knitter/crafter/retired history student.

But, in the meantime, I have to buckle down to take this exam. It would be a pain to have to take it twice. So I'll be hitting the books pretty hard over the next two weeks. The Model Rules and I will be best buds by the time March 10 rolls around.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stash: The Reckoning, Part 2

Whenever you feel like enlarging the stash against your better judgment, going through the existing stash is probably a good way to bolster your weakning resolve. It does a lot to remind you just how much yarn you already have.

And the scary thing is . . . I only went through the Sock Stash and was sufficiently reminded that buying more yarn at this moment is a Bad Idea. There is still a lot more than this waiting to be inventoried. At least I definitely don't feel like buying any more yarn now!

Anyway . . . On to the stash!

First, the relatively pedestrian stuff: Knitpicks Essential sock yarn, in a denim blue. I thought this would be good for some Retro Rib socks.

And, acquired about FOUR years ago, some plain black sock yarn from Schoeller Stahl:

I think the black yarn will go towards some socks for the Violinist's Christmas present this year, since it's not really a viable yarn for GPG.

Now, moving on to the more beautiful parts of the stash:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport, in their seaside (or something thematically similar) colorway:

I used to have two skeins of this stuff, but used one for . . . maybe some anklets for the Aspiring Ecologist? I can't remember. I'm not sure what I'll do with the one skein I have left.

And, enough yarn leftover from the Anesthesiologist's Koralle im Meer anklets to make a full pair of socks:

I also have a full skein of Dani yarn from Wollmeise:

I hope to use this to make some knee socks for myself. Based on what I've been able to do with the other skeins I ordered from Wollmeise, there should be enough yarn.

Next: although I've been drooling all over Socks that Rock and Ashley's and Maritza's lovely chevron scarves, I actually already own some STR myself. I picked it up in L.A. last summer from one of the few brick-and-mortar stores that actually sells it. I've been unwilling to knit with it so far because it's so beautiful! (I actually feel that way about a lot of my sock yarn . . .)

Here is Torridon:

And Ruby Slippers:

And Rooster Rock:

So. Pretty!

I also have some gray Rowan 4-ply that I picked up on sale probably two years ago at my LYS:

Are you getting tired yet? There's still MORE!

Here is some Louet Gems Pearl that I picked up last December, before my self-imposed stash diet, for some Anemoi mittens:

I actually had intended to buy only the navy blue skein below to make the mittens with some Koigu I already had, but I always like to maximize what I get for the shipping costs I pay when ordering on-line. So I threw in the two green skeins to make a second pair, probably for a gift for someone.

Anyway, like I said above, I bought a skein of navy blue Pearl to make some mittens with this nice pale orange/blue mix Koigu I have. The Anemoi mittens will only take one skein of Koigu, so I am not sure what I will do with the other skein just yet.

But the Anemoi mittens segue nicely into the rest of the Koigu stash. I got all of this last year when my LYS was having an end-of-year sale. I've put off knitting it because it's so pretty, but I'm really going to make an effort to make some great socks out of it this spring.

Yellow and blue:

More orange and blue, a combination I love:

Gray and green and purple:

Teal and brown and green and purple:

And I still have more random sock yarn remainders that I didn't take pictures of. Nothing to make a full pair of socks out of, although maybe once I knit down the sock stash, I'll have enough to start a log cabin something or other. We'll see.

Is that enough stash for you? It's enough stash for me! I think I'll put off acquiring more STR until I work through some of the yarn I already have.

Lastly: There is also one more part of the sock stash worth showing . . . but that will have to wait until the weekend!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nothing says "I love you" like a handknit hedgehog

GPG and I celebrated Valentine's Day over the weekend, since Valentine's Day fell inconveniently in the middle of the week this year. We tromped around a local park in the morning on Saturday and went to our favorite sushi restaurant for dinner.

We also exchanged gifts. GPG was the lucky recipient of not one, not two, but THREE handknitted items this Valentine's Day. (This is mostly because I had intended to give him some of these gifts for Christmas last year, but didn't finish them in time. Er, I mean, this is because I love him THREE times as much as last year. Right?)

He was very tickled by this hedgehog, which some of you may recognize as a Crafty Alien pattern:

We have a thing for hedgehogs. Don't ask me why.

Pattern: Crafty Alien's hedgehog
Yarn: Brown Sheep worsted for the body; Wool-Ease worsted for the spines
Needles: US 10
Recipient: GPG

This was a fiddly item to make. The spines in particular were a total pain the neck. I also have zero embroidery and applique skills, so I sort of made things up as I went along, and was helped by the fact that the yarn I used for the body is somewhat dark, so it's hard to see mistakes or less than perfect stitching.

I actually bought the entire hedgehog kit, but used my own yarn and saved the yarn that came in the kit to make another hedgehog. But, having made the first one, I am now putting the kit deep into the stash. It won't be knit up for . . . well, a while.

I also made GPG an orange hat--the same exact kind as the one I made for the Chairman's birthday present. He's modeling it in this picture while taking pictures of the hedgehog for me.

The last time we went skiing, we talked about how hard it was for us to find each other on a slope once we'd start skiing down it. We both have dark ski jackets and dark ski pants, like everyone else out there, so it's hard to distinguish each other from the rest of the skiing population. We decided that we needed some orange hats.

The lighting doesn't really do justice to the brightness of the orange. It is seriously traffic-cone orange. I just need to make myself one, and then we'll be all set to go skiing! (Which, unfortunately, won't be for a long time.)

Pattern: Fig and Plum's Cashmere Ribbed Hat, larger size
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8, again from the stash
Needles: generic 16" circular US 8, plus Brittany Birch US 8 DPNs
Recipient: GPG

The "biggest" gift, though, in terms of knitting, was a pair of gray socks:

I made GPG socks for Christmas last year out of some black Knit Picks Essential sock yarn. He liked them a lot, but rarely wore them because the woolen yarn made his feet too hot most of the time. I wanted to make him socks that he would actually wear, so I bought some custom-order cotton sock yarn from Carolyn at Greenwood Fiberworks (who, unfortunately, appears not to be dyeing up her signature cotton sock yarn anymore).

Knitting these socks was a mighty struggle. I had intended for them to be Christmas presents, but that obviously didn't work out, and for a while I feared I might have to give them to GPG as a birthday present (in July). It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the gauge for this sock yarn is MINUSCULE. Like, twice as fine as regular sock yarn. The yarn stretches, of course, so technically the number of cast-on stitches (78) was not extraordinary. But the row gauge was absolutely impossible, I think primarily because the yarn is fine, and it becomes especially fine when it stretches as you're knitting it.

So these socks have been on the needles since November, really. Progress was really, really slow. I had three full days of meetings for my journal at school just before Valentine's Day and hoped to make a lot of progress, but even with such concentrated knitting I was still up until 2 a.m. the night before I saw GPG this weekend, trying to finish. During those meetings, I knit the entire time, but I had no more than a centimeter to show for each day's efforts! (In contrast, I'm now knitting a sock out of regular woolen sock yarn, and I'm almost done with it after 3 days of much less knitting time.) Eventually I sucked it up and barreled on through because 1) I was going to give GPG socks for Valentine's Day, dammit! and 2) I knew that if I finished these socks, the rest of the destashing would go MUCH faster.

The socks are a bit mottled because they'd been in his shoes earlier that day. He has worn them and likes them! And they don't make his feet too hot!

Pattern: My own. Standard cuff-down sock pattern with a K4, P2 rib, 78 sts around.
Yarn: Greenwood Fiberworks cotton-lycra sock yarn
Needles: Addi Turbo US1, magic loop for one sock, the other on two circulars
Recipient: GPG

I have some more of this yarn--probably enough for a pair of socks for me--but, like the hedgehog kit, this yarn is going deep into the stash, not to be knit for a while. It's really comfy yarn--very soft and snug-fitting--but I want to work on other things before I get bogged down with this yarn again.

Anyway, GPG loved the socks, so that's what counts. But I hope I haven't raised the bar for next year's Valentine's Day . . .!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Flower Basket in Action

As promised, here are a few photos of the GMother with her Flower Basket Shawl. I really apologize for the disjointed posting; I hope things will smooth out soon once I get more organized.

She was really pleased with it. It was just the thing to cheer her up after a dreary, rainy, day in Germany.

It helps that she was wearing a white vest so you can see the pattern nicely.

Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day!!!


I've tried to be fairly good about not poking around on too many yarn websites this year. I don't want to stumble across a must-have-NOW item that will tempt me into breaking my New Year's Resolution to knit from the stash. Unfortunately, though, sometimes a girl just gets bored in class. Bored + wireless Internet = bad news.

So far, I've been able to withstand the siren call of Socks That Rock. I click around their website during class and look at all their delicious colorways in a weird form of self-torture. But I've been able to remind myself that I have plenty of beautiful sock yarn to content myself with, and I will move on to STR once the stash is depleted.

Of course, the STR temptation has become much harder to resist since the outbreak of the STR Chevron Scarf craze that Maritza started. Ashley's scarf looks amazing, too. I've also been hankering after a new scarf since getting a cold last week. But I have resisted mightily.

However, my resistance has weakened upon my discovery of this. I know that I already have yarn for a Jemima, but Webs has the exact yarn that the pattern calls for, and I love RYC Cashsoft anything after using it for my first Shedir a while back. I think a sweater made out of the blue color at the bottom, plus some of the light orange for the trim, would look really nice. I have a strong fondness for orange and blue.

It also kills me that Webs has this, which would be perfect for a Pippa, another My Fashionable Life pattern that I've been coveting. It's not the exact yarn from the pattern, but the gauge given by the pattern is spot-on, and I imagine that Baby Cashmerino and RYC Cashsoft 4-Ply are probably pretty similar. I think that a lot of the colors Webs had would make a really beautiful sweater.

So now I'm strongly tempted to break the resolution. With the sale price from Webs, buying the yarn for both sweaters would total up to less than $50 per sweater, which I personally think is stellar. I'm also kind of thinking that if I'm going to break the resolution, I should really blow through it and buy the Jemima yarn, Pippa yarn, AND lots and lots of Socks that Rock.

The temptation is strong. The will is weakening. ARG!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Red Valentine for Valentine's Day

A red valentine?

A red Flower Basket, more like it . . .

Pattern: Flower Basket Shawl
Yarn: 1 skein Rosenrot from Wollmeise
Needles: INOX 24" circulars, US6
Recipient: The G Mother

These are pictures of the second red Flower Basket shawl that I knit last year. One went to the Boll Weaver, and the other went to GPG's mother for her birthday near the beginning of January. I am admittedly late in posting these pictures, but I figured that Valentine's Day was as good as any to post a nice red FO.

I finished this just a few days before GPG and I left for Germany. It was something of an ordeal because I overestimated the amount of yarn I had left and had to tink back two repeats of the stitch pattern to have enough yarn to finish the shawl. I probably should have used a life line, but I wasn't quite sure how to do it, so I tinked.

But, I did use bigger needles for this shawl, so it came out much larger than the Boll Weaver's. GMother loved it. I have pictures of her wearing it immediately upon receipt of the shawl, but those are on a CD at home. I'll add them soon.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Turkey Tetrazzini Tuesday

Yeah, so I had this post all ready to go yesterday when I remembered that, for some reason I haven't been able to figure out yet, my computer doesn't like to let me post pictures from home. And I am too lazy/disaffected to figure out how to fix this. So just pretend that it's Tuesday still, so I can keep the nice alliteration of "Turkey Tetrazzini Tuesday." I promise a proper Wednesday post is coming just around the corner.

Of course . . . I ended up using chicken, not turkey, because that's what I had at home, but I'm sure you can work with me here.

Another fine dish from the folks at Cook's Illustrated. It's not the most elegant dish by any means, but it's tasty and hearty and efficient (i.e., makes lots of servings). I had some for lunch today and it gets the job done.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Eye Candy Friday: Dresden

GPG and I made a day-trip to Dresden from Weimar while we were in Germany. I took this picture of some winter-dormant trees there. I liked the weird branches of the trees silhouetted against the fun clouds in the sky. This was one of the only sunny days we had while in Germany!

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Stash: The Reckoning, Part I

I'm planning on taking an inventory of my stash this month and figuring out exactly what I'm going to do with all the yarn I have. Hopefully, this will help me stay on track with my destashing this year! Since I'm usually a bit pressed for time to take good pictures, I'm started out with the easiest projects first: the sweaters.

The sweaters aren't the easiest projects, but they are the most discrete parts of the stash because I bought specific yarn with a specific project in mind. So it was easiest to pick out the sweater projects and get photos taken.

Unfortunately, the pictures aren't great; I had to take them in the early morning, before the sun really came up. But at least you get the idea.

First up, some tweedy Regia sock yarn for a lightweight sweater for me:

GPG bought this for me while we were in Germany, so although I did acquire this yarn in the New Year, I didn't break my rules because I didn't buy it myself! (Yes, I know it's a technicality . . . so sue me.)

The yarn is a twist of one navy blue strand, one tan strand, and one light blue strand. It's quite pretty, although I know it'll take a lot of stamina to knit because it's meant for US 2 needles.

But it won't take as much stamina as this:

This is gray Regia, also from Germany, intended for a sweater for GPG. I'm not sure if you can tell from pictures of him just how big GPG is, but he is HUGE. At least, in a knitter's eyes. He's 6'4" and around 200 lbs, so it will take a lot of knitting to make him a proper sweater. The Regia sweaters will be the last things I knit from the stash because I know they'll take forever. There won't be a proper destashing this year if I start with the Regia sweaters first--I'd spend the whole year on them.

But, I do really want to knit these sweaters. GPG's mom made him a sweater out of sock yarn years ago, and although he says it took her forever, he still has it and it's the perfect weight for him. So, eventually, I will get around to make another one for him and a new one for myself.

I will also knit these sweaters last because I don't have a specific pattern in mind for them. I will probably do some kind of raglan sweater, cobbled together from Elizabeth Zimmermann's books and maybe Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. But it will probably do me some good to knit a few other sweaters first, just to get my mind properly wrapped around sweater construction.

So, I also have this:

It's some teal-colored Cotton DK to make a Jemima. I've been coveted this sweater for ages; it looks so comfortable. The Cotton DK is not an exact substitute for the Cashsoft DK, but I got it on sale at Little Knits (which has AWESOME sales, by the way), so I hope I can make it work. (Seriously, I think that all in, the cost for this sweater will be about $25. Can't beat that.) There's one lighter blue ball at the top of the bag for the trim.

I guess I was on something of a teal kick, because I also bought a bunch of Artyarns Merino last fall at my LYS:

This is intended for a Sunrise Circle Jacket. I also love this pattern. Of course, it's sort of ridiculous that I'll probably be knitting most of these sweaters in the summer. In Houston. While studying for the bar. Oh, well.

And, last but not least, we have some lovely purple Cash Iroha:

I will actually probably start knitting this stuff up first of all the sweaters. I pulled out the needles to start swatching for an Hourglass sweater, but haven't actually started just yet because there are some last-minute Valentine's Day gifts and two shawl projects that I'm working on (or need to start working on !) first. Pictures of those things will come soon, I hope!

So, there you have it: the sweater stash. The sock stash, lace stash, hat stash, felting stash, and miscellaneous stash will all have their day in the sun, too. Eventually.

Oh, and I've been eating the meatballs all week, and they are fabulous. The sauce leaves a little to be desired, but the meatballs themselves are terrific.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Chairman's Birthday Hat

I was finally able to take some knitting-related pictures this weekend, although not as many as I had hoped. I have a lot of little projects all going on at once, but a lot of them are stalled out as I perform triage to get certain gifts done on time.

One of those gifts is the Chairman's birthday hat. (I suspect that the Chairman is too busy to read this blog, but if by chance you are reading, Chairman . . . STOP RIGHT NOW!) I dropped everything last week and knit exclusively on this for two days to get it done in time. His birthday is actually not until next Monday, President's Day, but I needed to finish it extra early to send it off to Japan in the mail. I got to the post office last Saturday, so I hope it'll arrive in time.

I would much rather have made the Chairman something like socks (partly because I have a lot of stash sock yarn, and partly because I think he would use socks more), but I didn't have much time. And the Chairpeople tell me that it's cold in Japan, so maybe a hat will actually come in handy.

I like how the top looks like an asterisk:

Pattern: Fig and Plum's Cashmere Ribbed Hat, larger size, with larger needles
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8, gray, from the stash
Needles: US8 generic 16" circular needles from Taiwan, plus US8 Brittany Birch DPNs
Mods: Just the larger needles and a bigger yarn. The hat is quite stretchy, but that's probably not a bad thing.
Recipient: The Chairman

Monday, February 05, 2007

Meatball Monday

I'm not starting a weekly thing, like Eye Candy Friday, but I did make meatballs for some of my meals this week. The recipe came, as usual from The Best Light Recipe from the fine folks at America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated.

Sauce . . .

. . . plus meatballs . . .

. . . yields Spaghetti and Meatballs!

Okay, so that last picture doesn't include the spaghetti just yet. But you get the idea.

And yes, there are chopsticks in that first picture of the sauce. I actually cook fairly frequently with chopsticks, since I think they are the handiest cooking instrument on the planet. Very useful for grabbing those meatballs.

I actually made the sauce and meatballs last night and am letting the meatballs sit in the sauce for a day to soak in some of the flavors. (This is also because I already have some food prepared for today.) I will taste them later and give you a report!

Have a great week!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Eye Candy Friday: The Graves of the Goethes

Another picture from Weimar. The city has a fairly large graveyard near the city center, which has lots of family plots as well as the tombs of all the famous people I've mentioned before: Goethe and Schiller, as well as Anna Amalia (huge patroness of the arts) and, I think, Karl August (Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Goethe's boss and benefactor, and all-around badass). Unfortunately, all the famous people are in a mausoleum where you have to pay money to see them.

But, the rest of the Goethes are in the Goethe family plot in the Weimar graveyard, so I took a picture of them:

More pictures will follow, I promise. The weather looks like it'll be sunny in Houston, where I'm visiting GPG this weekend, so maybe I'll be able to catch up on photos of the knitting I've been doing lately.

Have a good weekend!

P.S. Take a look at last Friday's Eye Candy, too. GPG ran the photo through Photoshop and it looks much better now.