This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Some Random Thoughts

I tried to learn a new cast-on last night, and failed at it miserably. The cable cast-on is not all that hard, but it's supposed to be loose, stretchy, and my attempt was tight and iron-like. Is that ironic? So Patrick, another attendee at knit-night, cast the 200 stitches I wanted onto my needles. I knit the first round, and when I got to the last two stitches, they were so tight I couldn't get the needle in to carry the yarn. After several attempts, growing more and more frustrated, the yarn slid off the needle and the cast-on disintegrated. I hate it when that happens. I will attempt to re-cast-on this cowl. It's in MadTosh forestry,and I love the colour!

My newest attempt at the NewBitterSweet Cowl is coming along wonderfully. I'm using baby llama (llambrosia) and I just began the first row of the lace pattern. I think this is going to go to Carlene's mother, Margaret. I think this cowl pattern could be easily adapted for a rectangular shawl and look very pretty, knit up quckly, and be a really fun knit.

I keep thinking I should make a spreadsheet for the knitting projects I want to accomplish this year, sort of a running tally to keep me on track and so I don't forget what I said I would make. I'll get right on that, right before cataloguing my yarn.

It is snowing outside, making me thankful that I am a knitter. I am off to Mind's Eye Yarns to get a wee bit of roving to make the coloured portions of the eye for my new eyeballs. I wonder what the smallest amount I can buy is? I'm still excited by this project, I just wish I could make it happen faster.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lack of knitting and eyeballs!

Standing in the midst of tubs and tubs of yarn, bags of as yet untubbed yarn, and unfinished yarn projects, I wailed, "I don't have anything to knit!"

Somebody needs to slap me.

Actually, after focusing all that energy on the holiday knitting, I'm feeling a bit at lost ends. I have a couple projects that want doing, finishing Brad's sweater, working on Troy's cowl, finishing Margaret's cowl. But I sort of also just want to take a little break right now, just a day or two.

Mother warned me there'd be days like this.

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In the quest to make my own Vitreous Humor Yarn, I have made 15 eyeballs. While I was in Pennsylvania, while we were watching Downton Abbey (the only time the TV is on during the weekend, and everyone but me is addicted to the show), I dunked bits of merino roving into hot, soapy water, and rolled eyeballs. Believe it or not, they're still drying. I hope that they will be dry and ready for the next step (needle felting for the iris, pupil, and a few bloodshot veins) very soon. Then to attach them to some Malabrigo Rasta yarn, and I can knit away at my own eyeball yarn!
Look! Fifteen eyeballs! I think I'll put the irises on the bits that have the creases, to hide them.

I think I'm going to make a spreadsheet for the projects I want to accomplish this year. I'll be able to track them better, and will know what's coming down the pipeline. And it helps to make me feel more official as a knitter!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pennsylvania and the Full Catastrophe

I'm in Pennsylvania, and I've just given everyone their knitted gifties: the Honey Cowls, the Grace Jones cowls, the Ombre cowl, the Irish Hiking Scarf, and the nascent hat I'm making for one person that I never finished (one more inch to go before I start the decreases!), and the sweater for Brad, my friend who is 6'5". Well, the back panel, anyway. Everyone loved their gifties and I cried. It was a good night.

Also today I made it to Forever Yarn, and the owner remembered my name! I bought some beautiful yarns, which I'll showcase later (I think I left my camera at home), and it was all warm and fuzzy at the yarn store, and not just because of the mohair I bought.

While knitting this morning with my friend Libby, we decided that the best thing is to cast on, the second best thing is to bind off, and in between is all that interminable knitting. In other words, I finished a project, the New Bittersweet Cowl I cast on a couple weeks ago. I just need to block it.

I'm full of good homemade pizza, I'm surrounded by the people I love most in the world, and Brandon is having a good time, and has successfully "met the family".

As the Nields say in one of their songs,
I don't need the good life
I just need life,
The full catastrophe.

Sometimes it isn't a catastrophe.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Do-it-yourself, sort of

In every life, there are set backs. One doesn't get the promotion one wants, or just misses snagging those tickets to the last show of that fabled performer, or makes an offer on the perfect house in the perfect neighbourhood that isn't accepted, and one ends up living in a less desirable place.

Life is often like that.

I have been trying to get some Vitreous Humor yarn from Insubordiknits, but alas! to no avail.
If I had been more clever, I would have noticed that nothing has been updated since January, 2014, that there is no link to actually buy anything on the website, and that it seems largely abandoned. When I did notice this, I sent a message to the owner on her Facebook page, but again, to no avail. H√©las (that's French). 

Today, serendipity took me to Mind's Eye Yarns, where I had a conversation with the owner, Sharon Lynn. I told her about my quest for Vitreous Humor, and lamented that it was probably not in the cards that I'd ever get any, and I really wanted to make the scarf for my friend William who really would like something made with this yarn. And she said, "Why don't you make it yourself? 

I'm not a spinner (goodness knows I've tried), and I'm not a dyer (goodness knows I want to learn). How could I make my own yarn?

"Well, you could felt the eyeballs yourself, and then attach them to some yarn. Probably something like Malabrigo Rasta."

No kidding?

Yeah, no kidding. What followed was a discussion with her about taking some roving and felting it by hand into a ball shape drinking a shot after every few eyeballs, until the total of 13 to 15 is reached). When that's dry, using some blue and then black roving to needle felt the iris and pupil. Maybe a thin red bit to make give it that slightly blood-shot look (no shots allowed during the needle felting portion of our trip). 

So I left the store elated and feeling a bit stoned, agog at the possibilities! Sharon Lynn said she'd see if she could get me some merino roving for the eyeballs, and then the rest would be, well, not easy, but certainly achievable. 

I just might be able to make this scarf, after all!

Now if we could do something about the Blythe Baby Camel by Classic Elite, which seems to have been discontinued.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Year, New Projects!

I have cast on the first project of the new year, and I have done so using stash yarn! Maybe this will be an omen for the upcoming year that I will knit more stash and buy less yarn! I wasn't able to get a good picture of it, but it's a hat for Brandon in Cascade Eco-duo (70%alpaca, 30% merino, undyed).

Right. Who am I kidding? Since I'm saving up through the whole year for both Rhinebeck and the NH Sheep & Wool festival, and Huw has mentioned Web's tent sale in relation to a trip to Northampton, I already know that much yarn will be acquired. And dare I admit that I just got some gorgeous
MadTosh in her Chicory colourway, to make something for myself? No, I won't admit that at all. Now the question is, what to make with it?

I have finished the mink cowl for Steven. It's more than 20 inches long, and will be all bunched up around his neck. I think I should have made the stripes shorter than I did, but I can't change it now. He'll be so very warm wearing it. I have to say, that as much as I love MadTosh yarns, after knitting with mink, Tosh feels like knitting with burlap. Hell, knitting with alpaca feels like knitting with burlap after mink. I think I could get very spoiled, very easily, if it weren't so damn expensive!

I'm also almost done with the New Bittersweet Cowl for Siohban. I think I have eleven more rows to knit and I can bind off. It's looking good, but my sense is that I knit it very tightly, and that it won't be long enough. Of course, blocking it will make it stretch a bit. I hope it can be wrapped at least twice. I am learning that the first time I try any new pattern I knit it a bit more tightly than is my wont; I noticed it with the Honey Cowls. The first was tight, the last was much closer to gauge.

I have been trying to buy some Vitreous Humor yarn from Insbordiknits, but there is no place on their website that I can see where one may make a purchase. Maybe I'm missing something. I sent a message to the owner on Facebook, but so far, no response. I really want to make this scarf for William (even though it kind of grosses me out), but I'm not sure I'll be able to. I'm also looking forward to finishing Brad's sweater and casting on Troy's cowl. I've got so much to keep me busy over the  next few weeks, and I want to knit it all right now! Being a non-monogamous knitter always means having something to knit.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's a New Year!

It's a new year, and I think one of the things I have to do (and not make a resolution to do it, because we all know what happens to resolutions) is organise my yarn collection. It's gotten really out of hand, and I can't find things that I know I have (like those three skeins of Mad Tosh DK in Lolita, which I'd like to knit up as a cowl for my friend Dolci). Aside from the fact that I am storing six bins of yarn in a friend's basement (really darlings, daddy still loves you!), I can't walk across my room without tripping on a skein of some yarn or other. It's gotten to the point where I'm actually dressing in the hall because I can't get around all the yarn. Oh, the humanity!

I guess this means I really need to knit my stash down. I really should, because I've got some pretty awesome yarns there, yearning to be knit up.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd bolluxed up the Milanese Loop Cowl I was making. I finally broke down and frogged it off the needles. I recast on, but this time the New Bittersweet Cowl, which is a faster knit. I'm more than half way through, and thoroughly enjoying it. Might even have it done before I leave for Pennsylvania next week!

I am also knitting the Ombre Cowl right now. In mink, because that's the way I roll. I would do it slightly differently next time (if I were making it for a man, which I am), and make the stripes of colour smaller than the 4.5 inches called for by the pattern. But this is what I've got, and this is what he's getting.

I'm thinking about the next projects. I need to finish Brad's sweater, my sweater(s), and Margaret's shawl. I want to make a cowl for Troy (my own design, and the yarn is already in my stash, about which the nice lady at the store said my colour choices were "inspired"), and William wants a scarf called Vitreous Humor, by Insubordiknits. It's kind of gross, in an 8-year-old-boy kind of way. I can't wait!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Assessing the Year

Things Knit
I got a lot of stuff done this year, however, most of it was for holiday gifts. I made three cowls out of Mecha. One was for my cousin, one was for my undergrad professor of Religion, and one was for me, and I wear it almost every day now, though it has stretched a bit. It's soft and warm and I like it a lot more than a scarf.

For the holidays, the official count is:
Six Honey Cowls
Three Grid Scarves
Three Irish Hiking Scarves
Two Feather-and-fan Scarves
Two Grace Jones Cowls
One Ombre Cowl

I got a lot of knitting done, sometimes making myself a bit crazy in the process. I wish I could knit faster, but I am not unimpressed with my output for the year. I churned out about 20 projects this year, and I'm happy with that.

Old Resolutions
I resolve not to buy so much yarn this year. I am at 21 bins, and could add one or two more.
All I can say is that the universe smacked me upside the head for this hubris. I bought a lot of yarn this year. Three trips to New Orleans meant a trip or two each time to The Quarter Stitch, and I also found a new yarn store in the Marigny, which was a lot of fun. I went on the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl, and spent double the money I'd budgeted for it, and then there was the NH Sheep and Wool Festival. These all added large quantities to my stash, but I also bought yarn through the year from a couple of LYSs that I frequent. Some of the stuff got knit up immediately, and some of it was for holiday gifts. I also bought yarn three different times for the same gift, each time finding something better than what I'd already got. I failed miserably in this particular endeavour, and if I make this resolution again, I'll really have to do better (and of course, I'm already saving money each month for both the NH Sheep & Wool Festival and for Rhinebeck).

I will knit my stash. I will use all that lovely beautiful yarn I've acquired over the years.
I tried, I really did, to knit my stash. I made four of the six Honey Cowls from stash yarn. One of the Irish Hiking Scarves was stash yarn. And that's about it. I failed miserably at this resolution.

I will finish the projects I have on the needles before casting on new ones. Well, most of them, at least. Well, some of them, I'm sure. In some sort of order.
I think I actually finished one project that was on the needles, maybe in January or February. But this was another resolution that didn't work out for me. I really need to assess what old projects I've got on the needles, and determine if they really need to be finished after all.

I will make some items for myself.
Uummmmm. Well, I did make a cowl for myself, in January. And that was about it. I would like to make some sweaters for myself in the new year.

I will blog more.
This is the one place where I shined. I wanted to write at least two blog posts per week, eight per month. I succeeded writing eight blog posts for six months. I wrote nine entries in one month, and 10 entries for another month. However, I wrote only seven entries for two months, and only three (!) for one month. However, I have written 12 entries the last month of the year. So, more or less, I will class this one as a resounding success!

New Resolutions
Knit more stash!
I really have to make this a priority. I have so many bins of yarn in my room, that I not only cannot navigate it successfully, I had to store six of them in a friend's basement. And I still can't walk around my room without bumping into bins of yarn.

Make more things for myself.
I love making knitted goodies for my friends. I love giving them things that have come from my wooden needles. I need to make a few things for myself. I'd like to make a few sweaters, and use some of the amazing yarns in my stash for things. These yarns were meant to be seen, not hidden away in a bin in my room.

Seriously limit yarn purchases.
I know I like to joke that yarn bought on vacation doesn't count toward stash, but you know and I know that it really does. I do not need to single handedly keep each of my LYSs in business. I know that baby llama is gorgeous, and only $11 per skein, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. Well, I could mix the black with the grey and make a cowl for someone, I'm sure.

Learn to read charts.
I have already started this, knitting the New Bittersweet Cowl, and only referring to the chart. Of course, it's damn simple. Wait until I have to cable something.

Learn how to make socks.
Yeah, I have plenty of sock yarn, just don't know how to make socks. So I think it's time to learn.

Write more blog posts.
I'm pretty pleased with myself that except for one month when I only wrote three entries, I managed to turn out between seven and twelve entries each month. I will refine this resolution by trying to write better entries, so that as many as possible are well written, and not just filler that I churn out because I want to reach a certain number each month. In other words, I need to hone my writing.

And now, I need to go. I've got 25 bins of yarn that need knitting up.
Happy New Year, to everyone who reads The K is Silent.