Garden of Fuzz

Friday, June 30, 2006

As the Heel Turns...

...on the first sock I've knit.
It is a humble sock, but I am pleased at how the mystery yarn is looking (patterning?). It's generated some interesting thoughts about knitting such readily available and cheaply purchased items, all of which have been covered by other people, but still fun to muse on while working away. I expect to be picking up stitches while at the hair salon later on this afternoon (I am still not used to this business of dying my hair: dying it after so long, dying it a human colour, having it dyed by a professional). We'll see how that goes.

I've decided to knit the Mrs. Beeton wristwarmers for my mom out of my handspun. She broke her wrist last January after slipping on some ice and the wrist aches from time to time and likes to be warm. I had started a single wristwarmer out of some fine cream mohair from my stash that same spring, but ran out and the next little bit I found was paler and the colour change noticeable, so I never finished it (it was quite plain anyway).
I'll be unplying the handspun so that the slubs look more "on purpose" and also to give me more yardage. Some of the Kidsilk Spray will accompany it, I'm not sure in which order, inside cuff or outside cuff, and I've still got to pick up some beads, perhaps on Saturday. Work will probably not begin until Sunday or Monday, realistically, but I'm excited.

Until then... Happy Canada Day! Don't forget to ingest something decorated with red icing or sprinkles containing everyone's favourite -- or mine, at least -- red dye #5. Mmmmmmm....

Today's Earworm:
Winds of Change, by the Scorpions, courtesy of the guy who whistles (quite beautifully, in fact) metal ballads in Keele subway station on some evenings.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Frogwalkers, and a Productive Weekend

Much progress made on the jaywalkers this Saturday at a backyard party.

Tried on the first one (okay, half of one), and lo and behold, it didn't fit p
ast the arch of my foot. Did not check gauge, did not measure foot circumference, do not pass Go, do not collect $100.00. Ah well, old habits die hard. So, Froggy went a courtin', so to speak. I've decided to save the dark, autumn colourway for a really big pair of jaywalkers for Michael, and have started knitting again with some other mystery yarn I bought at the same time from the Romni basement.

My homespun -- homespindled? -- finally got soaked and dried and seems to be a bit softer.
Still inconsistent and slubby though; I really regret plying it, I think it would have looked "on purpose" as a single. Anyone know if it's possible or advisable to UNply?
No idea what to knit with it as there's not much of it and it's not exactly delicate, as might suit a small cuff or bracelet. Of course, Mom is away on an Alaskan cruise with my dad and her sister, so I've got another week or two to work on her gift.

In between knitting and visiting, we made the following improvements in the back yard.

New cedar bedding frames and lots of weeding and trimming, and we even enjoyed the first four raspberries from the early-fruiting patch. The mice now have pink-stained toes, but Simon seems to have forgotten how much he loves raspberries.

Today's Earworm: Godd, by Marco V, from Euphoric Jim's Into the Light mix

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Random blatherings

Okay, so I haven't been knitting that much recently -- what's wrong with me?! I haven't even had a flower facecloth (my equivalent of the ever-present sock of other knitters) on the go since last week.

I am working on, no, struggling with, to be honest, this lacy camisole from Weekend Knitting.

I have begun and ripped it back three times, meaning I've had to throw away the snarled mess of the cast-on edge. I think I've gotten the hang of the stitch
pattern, but as this is my first time with something truly lacy, I am having a good deal of trouble with gauge consistency. My cast-on edge seems to be waaaaay tighter than the next few rows (I used the long-tail method as there wasn't a specific one mentioned), and if I continue with it, will likely not fit over my - ahem - ample hips. I'm currently using a bamboo circular, thinking it would grip the Kidsilk Spray better than those other standard grey needles, but things are still really slip-sliding around. The bamboos are also not as pointy as I think I'd like for doing a psso; this may be one of the reasons why my stitches are so frigging loose - it's easier to pick up the slipped stitch if I leave a little more room. And of course, now that I've knit a few inches, I'm able to see how the Spray is coming together, and I don't think I like the way it is striping vertically (I thought it might be more spotty or patchy). I'm considering exchanging the unused balls for a different colour, a solid colour.

Le sigh.

On a lighter note, the wedding I went to last weekend was lovely. The bride, while sick as a dog, sailed through the ceremony and reception with great poise (aside from a wee coughing fit during the vows), and looked absolutely gorgeous. The groom was handsome and dignified, and the bridesmaids wore stunning baby blue saris (the bride is from Trinidad). Apologies go to those who suffered through conversation with me... on top of my usual social handicaps (and a bit of hearing loss from a previous job, to boot), the lovely mirrored walls of the ballroom made for terrible echoing and I was forced to either nod politely when unsure of the topic of conversation, or constantly request a repeat.
I did not end up knitting during the reception party as it was quite dim (although the Harlot gave me her blessing for reception knitting!). Probably better that way given the problems with the project as noted above.

So it's a long weekend for me starting today at noon, during which I will probably cast on a less stressful item, hopefully finish up processing the handspun, progress on the camisole, and -- oh, yes, let's not forget -- get some serious housework and yardwork done. The house needs a purging to Goodwill and the yard needs a complete till and new sod near the house.
I noticed the huge pile of lumber Michael bought yesterday which is destined to become raised vegetable beds and a border for the front garden. Thank god knitting requires mostly just the forearms and is generally done sitting (preferably with a cold beverage nearby).

Today's Earworm: Surprisingly, none at the moment, although I did wake up with The Phantom of the Opera from that musical in my head. I was dreaming I was on a slowmoving, motorized raft approaching a cruise ship; I remember looking into the water and seeing weeds just below the surface (I have a phobia about waterweeds), my heart racing, then approaching the side of the ship and reaching up anxiously to be pulled aboard...

What the hell is going on with my subconscious?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Vests for Vermin

Last Monday or so, Cute Overload posted this little guy in his jaunty vest.

Months ago, when our rabbit S
imon was going through his first moult of the year, Michael suggested I save his fur and learn how to spin it into yarn so I could knit a wee blanket for The Munchkin (aka Rosebud). Nevermind that a) she would "improve" its loft by chewing it up or b) that rabbit fur is incredibly difficult to spin and c) Simon is not an angora so his fur is way too short.

Then we see the squirrel. Talks resume about perhaps a wee vest for The Munchkin, perhaps in some of the unspun angora/silk roving I have in my spindle bag. It is a stunning bright blue, lavender and lilac mix which would look lovely on her, and my spindle is good for spindling fin
er yarn (fortunately I am better with the thinner yarn right now, kind of like fingering weight or a little less). She is the tamest pet I have ever had, with the exception of our old patient pekingese, Tanya (such a lady she was); taking her measurements will be a breeze. This project may not happen for a few weeks, as I have just started on a saner endeavour in the form of the lacy camisole and cowl set from Weekend Knitting.

True to form, I want to make adjustments to the pattern,which has your basic box shape for the body of the camisole. Being decidedly un-box-shaped (and l
ong-waisted), it's my intention to add waist shaping and lengthen the body a bit. Cool. Simple. But the whole thing is in a very open lacy pattern and I'm not certain how to handle that.... I know I'm to decrease and increase in pattern, but haven't done this sort of thing in anything but stockinette. Suggestions? Tales of woe, anyone?

Work has also resumed on the Jaywalkers, so hopefully I'll have a photo of those next week showing good progress. These two projects are in contention for being possible wedding reception knitting, for the knervous hands. We are attending the wedding of one of Michael's fencing buddies this Saturday. I will know several of the guests, but haven't really seen much of them over the past few years, as I've not been going to the tournaments as much as I did before scoring a full-time, salaried (exhausting, soul-sucking) position. Sucking hard at small talk as I do, the knitting will give me somewhere to put that nervous energy that maketh the dumb shit overfloweth from the mouth. I'm really hoping to see M. & J.
, whom I've known since university, but I have no idea if they'll be there.

I won't knit at the ceremony of course, but is it rude to knit during the party part of the reception in between dances? I've been trolling the Interweb, and I'm going to ask the Harlot's wisdom.

No knitting pics today. How about some Cloud Mice?

In this sleepy pile are Strata, Cumula, Nimba, Pilea and Cirra. I tell them apart mostly by their personalities, a little by their waistlines, and even less by minute differences in their faces. Oh, and Strata has a teeny scar on her tail, but by the time she has climbed into my hand so I can see it, I know it's her.

Today's Earworm: Night, by MIDIval PunditZ

Monday, June 12, 2006

Knervous Hands

So I’m in the ‘dressing room’ Sunday night, waiting for my turn onstage at my bellydance student recital with my classmates, all dolled up and ready to go, with the familiar feeling that my diaphragm is shrinking slowly. I whip out the knitting to give my hands something to do other than flitting about checking pins and fluffing hair for the umpteenth time; one would think I’d pulled a live chicken out of my bag and begun trying to French braid its feathers. I was quick to say that it was only a simple pattern (the flower facecloth) using the most basic stitch, something I could do without paying much attention/screwing up. This began an enlightening get-to-know-you conversation; one of the girls is an embroiderer (if that is a word), although she says she has not picked up a needle in several years, when she was at home in Bulgaria. I estimate her to be in her early twenties! She has completed, among other things, a Mona Lisa and “The Secret Dinner” – a direct translation from the Bulgarian for The Last Supper (love it!) – which took her a year and a half to finish. She says they were ‘picture-size’ which we all took to mean average size of a painting on a wall. Wow.

On the subject of less common fibre pursuits, I have taken up drop spindling and the basics seem to have come naturally. My first yarns are quite rough and inconsistent in thickness, but show marked improvement with each tiny skein. Last week I finished spindling some very pretty merino/silk confection in brilliant blues and lavenders and have only to let it bloom underwater and wind it. I quite liked it as a single, and now that I've plied it, the flaws are more apparent. Also it is not as soft spun as it was as roving, so I am hoping it may improve after a quick soak. I plan to knit some little trifle for my mother as part of her birthday present; it will be the first time since I was a child that I have put something together for her quite like this…

Sadly I am behind in my photos and have none to accompany today’s subject matter.
I do have photos from last week’s subjects though. Behold the booty from San Francisco!

Scored from the sale room: The red-copper-gold yarn on the left is Alfabeto (76% silk, 19% superkid mohair, 5% wool), originally 6 balls (one has been given as a gift). On the right, the golden pink yarn is Kyoto (69% silk, 25% superkid mohair, 6% extrafine wool), as is its neighbour, the bronzy-olive. The centre yarn is the aptly named Inskein Asylum (Nylon paper, nylon – no percentages listed on tag), and there are 1300 yards of the stuff. Check out the closeup, if the photo is not too crap…
Also purchased after much deliberation (and desire for something handpainted from this store), perched atop the Inskein Asylum is the handpainted Rosetta (100% cotton), which is flat and has a beautiful colouring reminiscent of Rococo art. No idea what to make with this…suggestions welcome. And oh, yes, a set of Brittany dpns, nice and short for socks.

Here also is a photo of one of the Ugg booties in the iris patch in my front yard. Both sets of booties, I hear, are much appreciated by their small recipients.

Today's Earworm: Awedouny, by Amr Diab (practice to a song a hundred times...).

Monday, June 05, 2006

Giant butterflies

As in, in my tummy. Really though, they are not good butterflies and perhaps feel more like giant moths trying to get out and fly around the fluorescent lights. Now, I like moths, but not flapping around madly in my insides (figuratively). My weekend had less than ideal repercussions; I thought I had made positive steps in a direction but I seem only to have dug myself a deeper hole.

But on to the knitting, the personal shall not be aired here.

My trip to San Francisco was fabulous!
We had incredible weather, not too cool, not too warm. Two of three days were mild and the third, while it rained, made for a nice cross-section of San Francisco weather (as I understand it to be). Much (too much) delicious food was had, a little local wine, good experiences with the city folk and a pensive final day rounded out the excursion. We dined at Chaya by the water (seafood and Cal-Ital, with the freshest ingredients and death-defying dessert constructions) on Friday, breakfasted at the Sunflower Cafe and relaxed at the Magnolia Brew Pub for dinner on Saturday, and got lost but then found at Herbivore in the Mission. Sunday night saw us at Millennium, foolishly attempting the tasting menu with wine pairings. Devine, but too much food! Monday was more modest with breakfast at a little cafe near the hotel and tea in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Well, that all turned out to be about the food.... I did actually go to Artfibres, the yarn store I mentioned previously. It was inspiring. All of the different yarns had not one, but two or three different swatches knit up: the first of just the yarn in question, and the others of that yarn in combination with others. Each swatch included small labels attached to the yarns noting the name and the needle size used. I flitted from yarn to yarn and back again, and the young woman minding the store that day was so friendly and knowledgeable, as were the two knitters hanging out in a comfortable seating area by the front window. Hugs go to husband Michael for being so indulgent of me, and reading or chatting with the knitters while I fondled all the yarn.
I scored huge in the sale room, and picked up a couple of gifts for some knitting friends from the main room. Hard to believe that I haven't taken photos of this yarn yet, but it has been busy since arriving home. I will do my best to squeeze in some photography (or reasonable facsimile) this evening and post again tomorrow. I know I've been neglectful of this blog...

I dutifully carried my sock-in-progress with me everywhere, but just couldn't get up the guts to haul it out for photographs. I did, however, finish my crisscross shrug on the plane and got much use of it (and many generous compliments) in the evenings and on the rainy day.

Wordy Progress Bar Substitution:
Penguin jumper:

Crisscross shrug:

10% complete

Curly toed kids' slippers from Weekend Knitting
10% complete

Ugg baby booties (2 pairs):

Jaywalker socks:
5% complete

Flower petal facecloth (2), also from Weekend Knitting:

I got a kind comment from übercherry directing me to a progress bar (and noting that she liked the colour combination of the Man sweater - thanks!), which I will hopefully soon put to good use. much other news, which I will expound upon tomorrow if time permits.

Hmmm. Blogger doesn't seem to want to upload photos of San Fran.

Until then, here is
Today's Earworm: The Dark Dance, by Mr. Merrill